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Statement by An Taoiseach at the United Nations Climate Action Summit


For almost a thousand years, my country, Ireland has been associated with the colour green.  The Emerald Isle.

In the future, I want Ireland to be known as a Green country because of how we respond to the climate and environmental challenges facing our planet.

Leadership is required to take action. And I believe leadership is also required to convince people that it is not too late to act.  

Here we are all inspired by children and young people who have embraced this cause and keep it at the top of the agenda.

We have listened to the views of our people through a Citizens’ Assembly and developed consensus through an All Party Parliamentary Committee.

Now with our Climate Action Plan we know what we are going to do. Next year, we will underpin it through new Climate Action legislation including carbon budgeting.

We have already banned fracking.

We have a climate action fund paid for by a levy on oil.

Our sovereign wealth fund has divested from fossil fuels.

We will outlaw single-use plastics next and our public sector is already doing so.

We have a carbon tax and have a cross-party agreement to increase it to €80 per tonne by 2030. 

From next year, all new revenue raised from carbon tax will be ring-fenced to fund new climate action and just transition. Just transition to protect those most exposed to higher fuel and energy costs and for whom new jobs must be found.

Climate action to fund the transformation of our transport, electricity, buildings and food production systems. This will provide billions to make change possible.

We will take coal off our electricity grid by 2025. Our renewable electricity will rise from 30% today to 70% in ten years.

By 2030 we will have prohibited the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles.  By then we will have substantially electrified our fleet. All new public buses bought from now are hybrids.

We will plant 440 million trees and will work with other countries to reform the EU Common Agriculture Policy to shift payments towards farmers who farm in more sustainable and environmentally sound ways.

In the last week, on foot of a request from me, our independent Climate Change Advisory Council recommended that exploration for oil should end, as it is incompatible with a low carbon future.

They recommended that exploration for natural gas should continue for now, as a transition fuel that we will need for decades to come while alternatives are developed and fully deployed.

I accept this advice and Ireland will now act on it.

We are leading the preparatory coalition on youth and public engagement the Marshall Islands, Nigeria and Namibia.

And our new international development policy prioritises those countries who are most vulnerable to climate change – a crisis not of their making - particularly the Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States.

I believe we must replace a Climate of Fear and Anxiety with a new Climate of Action and Opportunity.

Responding to the challenge of the century with creativity, with imagination and with courage.