Just two years ago, amid celebrations and excessive PR, the Paris climate accords were signed and we discussed the topic on this very website at the time of the event itself— bringing optimism across the globe, as to the future of climate change and how we, as a planet, would tackle the challenge and make efforts to secure our future on earth.
The goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius was almost immediately shot down by experts as too much and that target itself was completely inadequate.
Now, it’s 2018 and in those two short years, optimism was dropped. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released an alarming new report, alluding to how a 1.5° C raise as opposed to 2° C would make a massive difference. A difference that would affect the lives of millions of people. Continuing on our current path, the 1.5° C rise will happen by 2040! It will manifest itself in extreme weather events as well as other drastic changes. All coral reefs would die out, wildfires and heatwaves would sweep the planet and the fluctuations between drought and flooding would severely impact our ability to produce food.
Even here in Ireland, we are seeing these changes happen and the damage they cause. Take our storms over the last 18 months, they are packing more of a punch and happening more often.
Avoiding all of this can’t happen slowly. 2040 is a lot closer than we think! 22 years from now. Remember Riverdance in 1994, that was 24 years ago… You hear people say “where does the time go?” – well, it just passes. With time passing, things tend to passively happen. We cannot passively let our economies continue in the manner that they do. The solar PV grant was announced this year and the household micro-generation it supports is a small measure that can help Ireland towards neutralising and eliminating our carbon footprint, but so much more has to be done.
We need to embrace change. We need to embrace technology. We need to embrace these challenges all over Ireland, together. It is one of the only truly global issues that no one country can eliminate for themselves and not for others. Countries can solve housing issues, poverty, food shortages, wars and more despite the fact that the same issues can exist right across their nearest border. Climate change, global temperatures, extreme weather events will all happen unless we all work towards a cleaner future. It’s unfortunate that other issues can bring the world closer together but our climate challenges cannot. I suppose everyone has to start somewhere, be it renewable energy, cutting down on waste by recycling, burning fewer fossil fuels, using less. That is what we should aim for in Ireland for now. The Irish government has started with renewable energy grants such as this year’s Solar PV and pre-existing supports through the SEAI but this progress should only be backed up with more progression and give citizens the tools and resources to tackle climate change the length and breadth of Ireland, from Mizen Head to Malin Head, Dublin Port to Westport.