Science Week 2019 will focus on climate action, seeking to help people understand climate change, how science and technology can help us create a positive climate future and the impact we as individuals can have on climate change. As part of our ongoing focus on this very critical and current crisis we had the recent opportunity to speak with Marcella Corcoran Kennedy T.D. to get some her views on this very pressing issue.
Tackling climate change is one of the main challenges of the 21st century. Can you give us an insight into what kind of work your party is doing to help tackle climate change?
Climate change is the biggest challenge facing Ireland and the rest of the world in this century and as a policymaker, our response to this challenge of a generation has huge implications. In 2016, I had a detailed discussion with the former Taoiseach Enda Kenny today about my concerns regarding Ireland’s slow progress in addressing climate change. The Taoiseach asked me to prepare a proposal and key part of this document was my request that the Government establish the Citizen’s Assembly on Climate Action and the subsequent Oireachtas Climate Action committee in order to get cross party consensus on this major issue. I was the Government representative on this committee and it worked for over 12 months examining the issues in detail and its final report has strongly influenced the Government’s Climate Action plan which was published earlier in the summer. The plan is to make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change and is an all-of-Government action plan that will give Irish people a cleaner, safer and more sustainable future and will benefit generations of people. The plan sets out the actions we need to take in every Government Department and every sector. It identifies how Ireland will achieve its 2030 targets for carbon emissions, and puts us on a trajectory to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. It will mean changing the way we heat our homes, the way we travel and the way we power our country. Currently only 30% of our electricity comes from renewable sources but this plan will see us move to 70% renewable electricity by 2030.
Are you concerned about how climate change affects the local agriculture and biodiversity?
Yes climate change poses huge challenges to the entire economy and it is clear that Ireland’s biodiversity has decreased steadily since the intensification of our agriculture sector since the 1960s. However, farmers are increasingly facing the challenge of farming sustainably from an economic, social, and environmental perspective. Recent environmental research on mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, protecting water quality, enhancing soil structure and fertility and encouraging biodiversity on farms, will help farmers to farm commercially while protecting the environment.
What would you say your three main priorities are for the year ahead on climate change?
a. Working with my Government colleagues to ensure that the specific actions across the Government Departments that are contained in the Climate Action Plan are achieved and that consistent progress is made.
b. I want to ensure that Offaly and the region is protected from the impact of the decarbonisation of the Midlands peat region in the context of Ireland’s response to climate change. I am determined to ensure that there is a just transition for workers, families and the communities.
c. That I and my family will make our own efforts to respond the challenges of climate change by the choices we make in our home, transport and expenditure.
What would you suggest young people do to play their part and help prevent climate change?
We all have to make changes in our lives to respond to climate change. We must make decisions that are sustainable, for example buying local produce as much as possible, reducing our food miles. It will be important for us all to improve the efficiency of our transportation, our homes and our businesses and to avail of the incentives and grant supports provided by Government to support our efforts.
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