Saturday 19 October 2019

Editorial: 'Cost of inaction on climate far outweighs tax hikes'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo by Steve Humphreys
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo by Steve Humphreys


If there is one area in which we have been consistently standing in our own way, it is climate change.

We have taken soft options when it came to hard choices, sabotaging brighter futures for future generations.

Instead of making it easier for those who follow us, we have been busy blocking their paths embracing short-term conveniences instead of reorganising to adapt to the affect of global warming; as if a retreat into ignorance and delusion could shield us from the devastating consequences of decades of inaction.

Today's Budget, if we are to believe what we are told, is intended to address our laxity in meeting our responsibilities to the global community. Carbon taxes will hit fossil fuels, they are a contentious, but necessary step.

As always, competing demands pour in for a greater slice of a smaller pie. Families and every sector of society need help, but the common denominator that will affect us all is climate change.

As the Government unveils its spending plans, Dublin's first disruption by Extinction Rebellion begins with a week of rolling action.

Concentrating attention on global warming and the breakdown in global diversity is a legitimate aim. But any disturbance of the daily lives of working people is unacceptable.

We already know what we the global community needs to do. The Paris climate agreement of 2015 gave us all the tools to tackle climate change if we have the collective international will to use them.

Persuading the planet's serial offenders in carbon dioxide emissions to act in concert, and scale back - especially given the enormous cost of not doing so - should be easy.

It ought not require world-wide protests.

The arguments are overwhelming for: sustainable living, protection of the planet, and humanity.

We too have constantly been remiss. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has promised we will do better.

This clearly goes beyond a single Budget; it demands a commitment by all of us to look again at how we live, and embrace radical change.

Internationally, the cause is not helped when leaders like US President Trump constantly deny there is even a problem.

His decision to take the US out of the Paris agreement next year will further degrade the accord's effectiveness. Yet even meeting the Paris targets - which will be missed - would not be sufficient.

Our planet is still on track to warm by 2C by 2100, something that would have dire consequences for all.

The evidence in the form of extreme weather is literally hitting us in the face.

The proximity of hurricanes to our coast is a result of higher temperatures and rising sea levels.

The UN tells us global oceans may rise by more than three feet by 2100.

On a day in which we weigh up costs and consequences, it is impossible to ignore the accelerating price we will pay for uncontrolled climate change unless we act responsibly.

Irish Independent

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