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02/12/2018 Comments are off SIPTU Health

12 years to save us from climate change

A recent report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) makes grim reading. From rising sea levels to devastating droughts to damaging storms, the report makes it brutally clear that global warming will make the world worse leading to widespread famines, increased poverty levels and disease, refugee crises and economic impacts.

Stark statistics set out in the report make it evident that we have just 12 years to make massive and unprecedented changes to global energy infrastructure in order to limit global warming to moderate levels.

Staying at or below the targets set by the 2015 Paris climate agreement, the IPCC report sets out what it would take to hit the 1.5°C target by 2030.

The alarming report doesn’t pull any punches.

In its 700 pages it outlines how meeting this goal requires extraordinary transitions in transportation; in energy, land, and building infrastructure; and in industrial systems.

It means reducing our current coal consumption by one-third. It also demands a vast scale-up of emerging technologies, such as those that remove carbon dioxide directly from the air.

All in the very narrow window of the next 12 years.

In Budget 2019, the Irish government failed to introduce vital measures to honour our commitments under the Paris climate agreement.

They neither took essential steps to increase carbon tax on climate polluters or introduce a Just Transition fund to enable the ending of fossil fuel subsidies.

In response to the report former Irish President Mary Robinson and climate justice campaigner said: “Put a real price on carbon and do it now. These are the levers that move things quickly and get the investment into clean energy. If governments are not capable of being more serious, then they lack moral leadership, which is what we really need now.”

If Ireland wants to become a world leader on climate change, it needs to join other environmentally progressive countries in putting in place a carbon floor price to underscore our ambition for a transition in the most rapid way possible to a carbon-free world.

The next round of global climate negotiations, COP 24, takes place this week at the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland.

Governments, trade unions and civil society organisations need to make rapid progress on implementing the Paris Agreement so as to close the gap between what science requires and what countries are doing.

European trade unions believe it must also be a milestone on the journey towards a ‘just transition’, guaranteeing that workers will not be sacrificed in the effort to cut emissions and arrest climate change. COP 24 must be the Just Transition COP.

The conference will hear from the researchers involved in the IPCC report, hold discussions on putting in place a ‘Just Transition’.

Ensuring a just transition for workers means creating good-quality jobs in new, sustainable economic sectors. It also means enabling individual workers to adapt and providing a safety net of social protection when needed.

Comprehensive retraining will be needed to avoid skills shortages and equip workers for jobs in green technologies while climate actions must be at the top of the industrial relations agenda, to anticipate changes and ensure workers have a say in them.

The conference will provide an opportunity to inject a renewed sense of urgency into meeting the targets set out in the Paris climate agreement.

The reality is, civilisations are at stake, the effects of human-induced climate change will take its toll on the planet in less than 12 years, and we are currently tracking for a three-degree increase this century that would bring catastrophic climate change. We don’t have any time to waste.


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