Tackling climate change is is everyone's responsibility
Our national policy position for climate change establishes a vision for Ireland of low-carbon by 2050. That translates as an 80% reduction on 1990 emissions across the electricity generation, built environment and transport sectors; and in parallel, an approach to carbon neutrality in the agriculture and land use sectors, including forestry.
While the aspiration is great to have, everyone knows that the sooner we act the less damage will be done to society, to the economy and to the environment. The Stop Climate Chaos Coalition recently urged the Citizens' Assembly to shake up Irish climate policy. Campaigners made a joint submission proposing 18 practical actions that need to be taken by government to tackle climate change.
We look to government for action but tackling climate change is everyone's responsibility. Via its website, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is very much to the fore in providing lots of very helpful suggestions on what ordinary citizens can do. There are two broad areas of change responsibility that we all need to embrace regarding climate change: mitigation and adaptation.
Mitigation is about changing how we live, move, consume, manufacture and how we best use our land to reduce and/or eliminate the production of harmful greenhouse gases. Adaptation refers to dealing with the expected impacts of climate change, such as flooding and sea level rise, and involves taking practical actions to manage risks, protect communities and strengthen the resilience of the economy.
The stark reality is that we will all have to stop doing certain things and do other things differently. Take food for example; if targets are to be achieved we all need to change our eating habits by eating local and by eating what is seasonal.
We eat many foods that have travelled various distances across the world to get to our plates. We may count the financial cost of the food but few consider the environmental cost. Imagine the energy consumption for transport, refrigeration, storage, avoiding spoilage and providing additional packaging not to mention the chemicals, additives and preservative put into the food to keep it fresh.
Contrast that energy need and environmental impact with eating locally-sourced fresh food from your own garden, allotment, local shop or farmers' market not to mention the health and employment benefits for you, your community and the local economy.
For much more about food, sustainable living and the challenges ahead, check out the EPA's excellent website on climate change.
New Ross Standard