Ireland will more than halve carbon emissions this decade, Taoiseach tells UN climate summit

The Taoiseach has outlined Ireland’s commitment to climate action at a summit to mark five years of the Paris Climate Accord.

Addressing the virtual summit said Ireland would double its percentage contribution of development aid spending on climate finance by 2030.

Speaking this evening, Mr Martin said: “We will more than halve our carbon emissions this decade, an average of 7% per annum reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions.” 

He said that Ireland had enshrined its ambition to reach net-zero by 2050 into law, and that national long-term climate strategies would be prepared every five years.

Mr Martin said Ireland would also be supporting climate action through providing funding to the least developed countries, saying: “We must reach the furthest behind first, especially those disproportionately affected and least equipped to cope.” 

Speaking earlier UN secretary general António Guterres called on all countries to declare a climate emergency.

He hit out at wealthier countries for spending 50% more of their pandemic recovery cash on fossil fuels compared to low-carbon energy.

Mr Martin said Ireland would champion climate action in the interests of peace during our time on the UN Security Council.

“From January, Ireland will work as a member of the UN Security Council to champion ways in which climate action can contribute to sustaining peace.

“We will scale up our financial contributions, at least doubling the percentage of official development assistance spending on climate finance by 2030.”

European leaders confirmed their pledge, agreed earlier this week, to cut emissions by at least 55% by 2030 on 1990 levels, on a path to becoming climate neutral by 2050.

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, said the move was a “complete paradigm shift”, and would be backed by at least €30 billion from the €108 billion budget over the next few years.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the 55% agreement “is a go-ahead for scaling up climate action across our economy and society”.

She added: “We have already started, from boosting renewable energy, creating hydrogen valleys and producing the most sustainable batteries to launching a wave of building innovation, decarbonising transport and protecting and restoring our nature.

“We are serious about getting our economy on a more sustainable path.” 

But Mrs von der Leyen said it was not a task for Europe, which accounts for less than 10% of emissions, alone, adding “climate change is more than a European issue, it is human issue”.

She said the EU wanted to work with other countries who agreed for the need to put a price on carbon.

The head of the International Monetary Fund has said actions to tackle climate change offer “tremendous opportunities for jobs and sustainable growth”.

Kristalina Georgieva said at the Climate Ambition Summit: “A combination of carbon pricing, a near-term green investment push and policies to compensate affected people in parts of the economy could achieve emissions reductions and increase climate resilience while delivering about 0.7% higher GDP over 50 years.” 

She said the recovery from the pandemic could also help accelerate the changes, adding that by coordinating their green recovery strategies, countries could boost GDP by two-thirds more than if they act alone.

Ms Georgieva said that countries must harness the “firepower” of the financial sector through full disclosure of climate-related financial risk, and through policies that “nurture green finance”.

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