We need to tackle our carbon footprint in the year ahead
Happy New Year; I hope 2019 will be a good year for you and yours.
The year ahead is going to be an eventful one regarding climate change. Shortly before Christmas, environmental news contained little festive cheer. Naturalist David Attenborough described climate change as the greatest threat to face humanity in thousands of years. Former US vice-president Al Gore said we are facing the single most important moral choice that humanity has ever faced.
For the second year running, Ireland's performance on climate action in response to global warming was ranked the worst in the European Union. Globally, we came 48th out of 56 countries rated in the Climate Change Performance Index rankings.
At the United Nations Climate Conference in Poland, there was criticism of Ireland for failing to live up to commitments made to achieve the goals set by the 2015 Paris Agreement for member states of the European Union. There was an admission by our government that we will almost certainly fail to meet our agreed commitment for 2020 emissions reduction resulting in hefty fines to be paid out of the public purse.
To make matters worse, recent reports suggest that the targets that we are failing to achieve under the Paris Agreement are too low and that much more urgent action needs to be taken.
Some commentators enthusiastically projected that in 2019 we would change from being laggards to being leaders in the battle to halt rising mean global temperature. While that may have been a tad ambitious, we do need to step up and to start catching up by making changes to the way we live if we are to become the low carbon and climate resilient society that we need to be.
Minister Richard Bruton has promised 'huge changes' in climate action in Ireland; changes that will prompt a 'revolution in how we live'. While the specifics of his forthcoming Climate Action Plan to be published in February remain to be seen it would be great if he takes onboard the many common sense proposals put forward by the Citizens' Assembly in their April 2018 report.
Getting there will be expensive, painful for some, and politically unpopular; remember the protests over water charges here at home in 2016-2017 and the 'yellow vests' movement in France before Christmas. The challenge ahead is to try to maintain the standard of living while, at the same time, finding ways to reduce our carbon footprint.