We spoke with Green Party Leader, Eamon Ryan to hear his thoughts on Irelands recent declaration of a Climate and Biodiversity Emergency, which he proposed.
Ireland has just declared a climate emergency, what exactly does that mean?
Firstly it is important to remember that it was a biodiversity as well as climate emergency that was declared. As the Extinction Rebellion campaign have recognised the two go together. Tackling one will help the other and visa versa. The declaration is important because for fifty years we have stood back as the long slow erosion of our natural world has continued without doing anything about it and for thirty years we have done the same on climate change. Recognising that we are now at an emergency stage is one of the ways we might be able to get everyone into action stations.
There were only six people in the house when it was called what are your thoughts on that?
We were disappointed that there were only six people there, which does say something about the lack of political commitment on the issue. On the other hand we have done a good job in the Oireachtas on this in the last two years with the citizens assembly and follow up committee report. Last night was still another step in the right direction.
What are the actual politically feasible actions that can happen over the next six months to implement the climate emergency?
We should implement the climate emergencies bill to stop any new petroleum exploration licenses, we should implement the waste reduction bill to reduce single use plastics and we should start the wind down of coal and peat in our power stations.
What do you think are the biggest hurdles we face in tackling climate change?
The biggest hurdle is to get greater public support for the type of actions we need to take, particularly in the transport area. We have to inspire a majority of citizens to see a Green New Deal leading to a just transition as being the big new story of our time.
What do you think the best things that we the public can do to make sure Ireland keeps in line with the Paris Agreement?
I would of course say the biggest thing we can do is vote for climate action. It takes a political system to manage system change. You cannot take the politics out if it.
Do you think the government is taking climate change seriously?
They are not taking it sufficiently seriously yet but I think that can change, as public pressure for action grows and the new economy starts to show its benefits.
Interview and Portraits by Laragh McCann. Outreach by Cormac Nugent.