Earlier this evening representatives of all six major Irish political parties joined a panel discussion entitled ‘Three percent a year: How will Ireland cut emissions?’. The meeting, chaired by environmental broadcaster Duncan Stewart, was hosted by Cultivate in Dublin’s Temple Bar and organised by ‘People Against Climate Change.’
As the chairman set out vividly to the full house, while Ireland is on paper making all the right noises on emissions control, and is now mandated by the EU to achieve 20% emissions cuts by 2020, the reality is the exact opposite.
Our transport emissions continue to rise sharply and no sector of Irish society can be truly said to be on target for the kind of wide-ranging cuts that are most assuredly coming down the line.
To their credit, all six party reps duly showed up and each in turn gave a five-minute opening statement (of variable quality). What was a welcome change from the usual party antics was that almost all the representatives (with the exception of Labour’s Joanna Tuffy) steered clear of name-calling and political cheap shots for the evening.
The panel (above) was, l-r, Duncan Stewart, chairman, Simon Coveney, Fine Gael, Bairbre de Brun, Sinn Fein, Joanna Tuffy, Labour, Fiona O’Malley, PDs, Junior Minister Tony Killeen, Fianna Fail and Transport Minister Eamon Ryan, Greens.
Climatechange.ie made a video recording of the meeting in its entirety and will be preparing and editing these tapes in the coming days, with a view to posting for the record exactly what our six political parties had to say on climate change, in their own words.
As the chairman reminded us repeatedly tonight, the ‘debate’ on climate change is well and truly over. Now we have to focus on the practical steps to place Ireland on the path to a much less carbon-intensive future.
Junior Minister Tony Killeen pointed out the very real dilemma all politicians face on this issue. Yes, they know how serious the crisis is, but the Irish public as a whole is still firmly in denial on this, and how political leadership can move a population to take difficult, unpopular steps when most of that population truly has little idea what all the fuss is about strikes to the heart of the challenge.
Having banged on many doorsteps in the run-up to last May’s general election in what is supposedly Ireland’s most liberal constituency, this correspondent can vouch at first hand for the fact that the public is simply not getting the message.
And, to borrow a line from Don McLean’s ‘Vincent’, “perhaps they never will…”.
To view video highlights of of this meeting, visit www.climatechange.ie/video