On May 9, the governing and opposition parties in the Irish congress voted to declare an official climate emergency, following Britain’s declaration a week prior. The declaration of a climate emergency is a public notice that the government commits to developing stronger cross-party actions to deal with the urgent loss of biodiversity.
“We’re reaching a tipping point in respect of climate deterioration,” Climate Action Minister Richard Bruton said in a statement. “Things will deteriorate very rapidly unless we move very swiftly, and the window of opportunity to do that is fast closing.”
Despite the announcement receiving praise from officials and media, many climate activists are wary that without concrete and radical action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address biodiversity loss, the declaration is merely a publicity stunt.
“Declaring an emergency means absolutely nothing unless there is action to back it up,” Eamon Ryan of the Green Party said. “That means the government having to do things they don’t want to do.”
The declaration comes just eight days after the United Kingdom became the first government to declare a climate emergency following weeks of protests by the climate activist group Extinction Rebellion. The activists have been calling for aggressive reforms to reach zero carbon emissions by 2025 and to end human-caused extinction altogether. Their extreme approach, marked by disruptive street protests in England, has received support from many other activists and officials.
If nothing else, the declaration is a cross-aisle acknowledgement of the gravity of the climate crisis and puts the Irish government on the hook to develop and amend its existing climate action plan to more radically address the scale of the crisis.
“It is justified that a level of urgency be injected into this debate,” Bruton told The Independent Ireland.
Notably, the Irish government has emphasized the role of biodiversity loss within the crisis, an acknowledgement that many scientists lament has been alarmingly absent from conversations about climate change.
Image via Felton Davis