Press Release: Taoiseach's stance that climate change is 'not a priority' is foolhardy and economically short-sighted

The Environmental Pillar are calling on the Taoiseach Enda Kenny to retract his statement that ‘climate change is not a priority’ and start to build a country and economy fit for the 21st century.
The Environmental Pillar, an advocacy coalition made up of 28 national environmental NGOs, want the Taoiseach to accept that failing to prepare the country for climate change is not just morally abhorrent but also economically short-sighted.
Failure to prioritise climate change will condemn Irish families and communities to increased transport and food bills as well as an increased costs for energy and heating.
While other countries are working to build carbon efficient buildings and infrastructure Ireland is behind the curve. This will make Ireland a much more expensive place to live and do business in the coming years.
“Firstly let me say that the real reason to prioritise climate change is for moral reasons. We have a duty to the people in developing countries who are dealing right now with the impacts of climate change and stand to lose most from it. Also we have a duty to generations to come to leave the planet in a condition that is fit for all life and not riven with famine, refugee crises, water shortages and war,’ said Theresa O’Donohoe, Convenor of the Environmental Pillar Climate Change Working Group.
“However we feel that spelling it out in economic terms is the only language that this government understand.
“Failing to take seriously the challenge of climate change is sowing the seed of our economic demise. If we don’t invest now in efficiencies such as low carbon transport, renewables and building homes of the highest efficiency standard then our economy and businesses will suffer.

“The carbon intensive model of agriculture that the government is hell bent on bringing in has no long term future. The type of consumption that this model is based on simply cannot be sustained if we are to stop runaway climate change. This is clear. Already people are moving to food consumption that has less of an impact on our climate.

“This does not mean we stop farming. All it means is that we need to move to a model which delivers carbon neutrality in food production. There are more Irish jobs in this model too, genuinely sustainable jobs that will keep people in employment over the long term.
“The road that the government is driving us down ends in collapsing prices, emissions fines and hardship that farming families will ostensibly endure.
“In the rest of the economy delivering a low carbon future also means jobs. Retrofitting the thousands of inefficient homes means jobs, developing appropriate community renewable energy projects will deliver jobs, building a low carbon transport network such as light rail will deliver jobs, creating a circular economy where used packaging and products are dealt with here in Ireland will deliver jobs.
“But more importantly than any one of these measures, it builds a country that people can live in which respects our impact on the environment, and this in turn will be good for business and the economy.
“We should make Ireland the best little country in which to combat climate change’
“While the Taoiseach’s comments may have come as a surprise to some it has long been known that this government has no interest in tackling climate change.

“At the National Economic Dialogue senior politicians openly discussed how we would budget for our emissions fines in the coming years. Given that this money will need to come out of healthcare, education, welfare or pensions we must make climate action a priority for the betterment of everyone .”

 1. The official speech: “Ireland is determined to play its part”
 2. Irish Times: “Taoiseach blames recession for Ireland’s difficulty in reducing carbon emissions”
3. Irish Independent: “Climate change is not our priority – Taoiseach”