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Nobody is too small to make a difference in climate fight



A firefighter tackles a wildfire near Landiras in southwestern France last Sunday. Photo: AP

A firefighter tackles a wildfire near Landiras in southwestern France last Sunday. Photo: AP

A firefighter tackles a wildfire near Landiras in southwestern France last Sunday. Photo: AP

You know it’s too hot when the trains have to slow down because the tracks might buckle. Such has been the problem for rail chiefs in the UK, anticipating record temperatures of 40 degrees. But in the Horn of Africa the searing heat caused by global warming is a life and death issue.

Every 48 seconds a child dies due to the impact of drought and climate change, according to Oxfam.

In Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia the number of people experiencing extreme hunger in the three countries has more than doubled since last year. It is up from over 10 million to more than 23 million.

Climate-induced drought, regional conflict and soaring food prices caused by war in Ukraine have unleashed a chain of catastrophe.

It is all the more unjust because the combination of factors are completely beyond their control.

Here the discomfort of more frequent heatwaves can be mitigated against.

But the poorest nations of the world have done nothing to contribute to the dire circumstances they must battle simply to survive.

Mothers forgoing their food to feed their children is now a common place according to agencies.

In fact it was an Irish proposal that highlighted the threat posed to global security by climate change. The aspiration was to make it a permanent fixture on the UN’s agenda, for world leaders. But we need to get beyond aspiration to action.

Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency conducted an extensive survey which found nearly all Irish people think future generations and people in developing countries will be harmed by climate change.

About 90pc felt we have a national responsibility to act. They also felt we must do what we can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to be carbon neutral by 2050.

Beyond humanitarian and altruistic motivations, the urgency to act is very much in our own interests too.

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The evidence is overwhelming right across Europe. The latest studies show about 44pc of EU territory currently faces a threat of drought.

As fires rage in Portugal and Spain, western France is facing a “heat apocalypse”, experts have warned, amid extreme temperatures.

But apart from the legally binding pollution targets we must meet, there is a heavy moral obligation to shoulder responsibility.

Yet we already know how contentious targeting people for their emissions can be, through carbon taxes.

Yet they were almost universally accepted as “a vital milestone on the road to sustained climate action” when the carbon budgets for 2021-2025 and 2026-2030 were adopted on a cross-party basis.

Resistance is now growing as energy prices soar,

Yet vital shifts in production and consumption from carbon-intensive goods to low-carbon alternatives are fundamental to the future of all who live on our planet.

The Africans have a saying: “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try spending the night with a mosquito.”

Surely we can all play a part?

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