Minister says cost of ignoring climate change could be 'catastrophic'

Minister says cost of ignoring climate change could be 'catastrophic'

Digital Desk Staff

Updated at 11:45

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan has warned that the cost of ignoring climate change would be “catastrophic.”

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Mr Ryan said there was now “no doubt” and “no debating” that human-driven climate change was happening right in front of us.


“We have to remember what the science is saying - the cost of ignoring climate change is catastrophic.”

On RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, the Minister said that the consequences of failing to bring Ireland's carbon emissions down would be “beyond compare.” There was a need to move quickly because “the window for action is closing”.

The minister was speaking on both radio stations prior to the publication of a new UN report which states humans are causing climate change. For Ireland, the first key thing that needed to be done was to stop using fossil fuels.

Reducing emissions

Reducing the use of nitrogen-based fertilisers would help reduce carbon emissions in farming, he said, adding that farmers would be paid to move towards a different grass system. These would reduce emissions and result in a better outcome for farmers.


Farmers were the frontline of the climate response, he said, as they would manage the climate change that is to come, and also change the way land was monitored in order to reduce emissions, restore biodiversity and lower pollution at the same time.

Mr Ryan added: “Doing nothing is not an option. The science is ever clearer and unequivocal. It's our future we are talking about.

“For too long it has been about 'oh, well, maybe', but today's report will show that the science is unequivocal and the cost of inaction is far greater than the cost of any action”.

The report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published today, is the first part of a review of scientific knowledge about how the world is warming due to human activity.

Human influence


It is the first such global assessment since 2013, when scientists found that global warming was “unequivocal” and human influence on the climate was clear, with the majority of warming since the 1950s extremely likely to be down to human activity.

The high-level report authored by 234 experts suggests that some level of climate change is now irreversible, and that extreme weather events are linked to climate change.

It also comes with stark warnings about the effect climate change will have on Ireland.

The message in the latest report is even stronger, with warnings of how soon global temperatures could rise 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels — a limit that countries have pledged to try to avoid breaching because of the dangerous consequences for humanity.


Climate expert Professor John Sodeau, Emeritus Professor of Chemistry in UCC, told the Irish Examiner that the warnings in the report show the need for “real change" in how people live day-to-day.

“Whatever way you look at it, whatever things we've gotten used to — an increasing dairy herd, cheap and frequent air travel — we know the consequences of these things and we have to decide if we can sustain them," he said.

We have been too complacent, and the price will be paid by today's children.

Research conducted by mapping and data consultants last year indicated that more than 62,000 Irish homes are at risk from coastal flooding by 2050 due to climate change, with Dublin, Louth, Clare, Limerick, and Galway considered the most at risk.

More than 21,000 homes and almost 2,000 businesses are at risk in the capital alone.

The report also comes in the wake of a record-breaking heatwave in Ireland, where overnight temperatures did not drop below 20C in some parts of the country, and other areas recorded daytime highs in excess of 30C. Heavy rains and long cold snaps have also become more frequent.

Green Party leader in the Seanad, Pauline O'Reilly, said that the report will show that Ireland will not escape the consequences of climate change.

Additional reporting by Vivienne Clarke