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UN climate report exposes global environmental threats

An influential UN report exposing global environmental threats says climate change is widespread, rapid and intensifying.

According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which was approved by 195 member states, strong and sustained reductions in carbon dioxide emissions are urgently needed to prevent the damage to the planet.

The report says that human activity has led to climate change and it is time for action. The UN chief described the report as “a code red for humanity” that calls for a strong, rapid and sustainable reduction in methane emissions.

The Oireachtas recently passed the Climate Act, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. It also aims to cut emissions by 51% by 2030. A Climate Action Plan will be released soon, outlining the steps needed to meet the 2030 targets.

Farmers and young people reacted to the report

Following the publication of the report, a number of young people and environmentalists gathered outside Leinster House in Dublin on Monday and called on the Irish government to take immediate action. Eighteen-year-old Beth Doherty says the IPCC report is stark, but she is hopeful that the worst impacts of climate change can be avoided.

Farmers were also among those who responded to the report. The Irish Farmers’ Association’s president, Tim Cullinan, said farmers were ready to take on the challenge of reducing methane emissions. However, the Tipperary farmer warned that the government would need to provide assistance.

Opposition parties also welcomed

The UN report has been welcomed by opposition parties as well, however there are some suggestions. Sinn Féin said that the government’s response to climate change needs to be significantly altered. Senator Lynn Boylan, the party’s climate action spokesperson, said that people are willing to respond in the collective interest and that the government only has to coordinate them.

Darren O’Rourke, a Sinn Féin climate action spokesperson, said that the Climate Action Bill contains flaws that must be rectified. TD O’Rourke also called for increased investment in public transport to encourage people to leave their vehicles.

Social Democrats Climate Spokesperson Jennifer Whitmore said in a statement that the Climate Action Plan should include comprehensive and credible guidelines for reducing carbon emissions.

Oisn Coghlan, Director of Friends of the Earth, believes the IPCC report is a “final wake-up call.”

Dr Michael Byrne, a climate scientist at the University of St Andrews and a research fellow at the University of Oxford, said the report was particularly significant because the last report, published in 2013, was inconclusive on how extreme weather events were linked to climate change. According to Dr. Byrne, the research provides clear evidence that these extreme events are the result of climate change.

Now is the time to act: Environment Minister

Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan said that “these steps will be challenging but they will also create new opportunities”.

“It’s not without hope, but the time to act is now. It’s really urgent, we cannot wait but we can avoid the worst of climate change if we do act now,” he added. The Minister said that the first step in preventing people from causing climate change is to stop using fossil fuels.

Minister Ryan said that reducing the use of nitrogen-based fertilisers will aid in the reduction of carbon emissions in farming. The minister also said that farmers will be paid for switching to a different grass system.

“Doing nothing is not an option. The science is ever clearer and unequivocal. It’s our future we are talking about.” he said.

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