The Environment Ireland 2016 event in Croke Park, Dublin, was more than just a gathering of like-minded people on the subject of climate change. It was a chance for politicians, industry experts, activists and more to learn and be more clearly heard.
Some of the proposals and facts presented will be of little surprise to those in the know. Others highlight the actual impact of climate change and how much Ireland needs to up its game in response.
Change needs to come quickly and efficiently, but current goals are lacking, and the goalposts can seem far away.
There is almost a sense of contradiction in the message here. The viewpoint of the summit was that we need action now, that there is no time to waste on saving the planet before fuel and life disappear.
The goals are for change by 2050, with questions over what is achievable in the next 34 years. There is, however, good reason for the choice of this time frame. This is a longer period that some global action plans on climate change. This means that the response and aims need to be large enough to make it count – and they are.
The first of these couldn’t be any bigger or bolder. That is the need to become entirely fossil free in this period. This is not about cutting emissions to a smaller percentage and increasing solar usage, this about removing it completely.
This is even bolder when we consider that Ireland is unlikely to meet EU 2020 targets – one of only two countries to do so. There are two ways to react to this. There is the option of doing better work to change that or to fight to concede and reduce targets for 2030.
The Irish government are keen on the later, but this is defeatist in a world relying on fast, impactful change.
Ireland is a leading figure in technological development, which has to lead to a further call for increased technology and advancements. There is a need for a new tech to help the nation deal with these challenges. This includes apps for clean living, emission reduction, and helping people deal with the effects of climate change.
Also, there should be incentives for green tech and green companies. Investment is dwindling because of Ireland poor reputation on the environment. A switch could see new opportunities.
The actions of government figures and leading companies can only go so far without public engagement
A lot of this will depend on the attitudes of the Irish people and their desire to see more green tech and to change habits. Public opinion and pressure are key to policy change and the development of new products.
Supply meets demands. The government can try to play it safe and push for that drop in targets if Ireland’s people don’t raise their voices. There is a clear need for tech and behavioural changes across the board in every home.
Without this pressure, activism and dialogue, Ireland cannot find the right direction for its environment policies. There have to be constant reminders to those at the helm that the problem is not going to go away.