With the election being called for the 8th of February, political parties have been out canvassing for people’s votes to represent them in the Dáil for the next five years. Issues such as housing, healthcare and crime have dominated the discourse so far, but climate change has been an increasingly important issue.
The rise in this discussion has been due to the likes of movements such as Fridays for Future, initiated by Greta Thunberg, that has spread to hundreds of countries, calling for governments to act in relation to the climate catastrophe. Bushfires in Australia, floods in Indonesia and other climate disasters have gained worldwide attention in only a short time, which climate groups highlight as climate change is a current and pressing issue.
Despite the declaration of a climate emergency by the Dáil last year and the publishing of the Climate Action Plan, many see the government’s actions as insufficient, particularly as Ireland has been ranked the worst country in the EU in terms of climate action.
This has risen to protests climate action through Extinction Rebellion and the launch of the One Future coalition, which calls for faster and fairer climate action and supported by organisations such as the Union of Students in Ireland, the National Women’s Council of Ireland and the Stop Climate Chaos coalition.
Their aims include a reduction in Ireland’s greenhouse gases by 8 per cent, the restoration and protection of biodiversity and banning new fossil fuel projects, as well as ending peat and coal burning for electricity.
It is this unity of major organisations, as well as increasing protests and calls for action by the general public, that has seen manifesto promises pop up to address the issue of climate change. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have both committed to producing 70 per cent of electricity as renewable by 2030, while the Green Party, riding its popularity wave from the local elections, has pledged to retrofit 75,000 homes a year for twenty years.
However, many climate groups would likely see this as not enough ambition and little legal basis to achieve these aspirations. With the awareness of the deadline to achieve only a 1.5 degrees of temperatures globally by 2030 which would still have effects in itself, only a complete change may be seen as the goal to get, which would tag along with the 8 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions each year.
If any action is needed, it needs to be radical. When you observe the two main political parties in this country, both advocating for the market to fix itself, the action that would be needed would likely be insufficient and only in the interests of the market itself. Hence, even with the manifesto promises providing guidelines for action, the protests will still continue, the calls will grow louder, as an issue that is above politics threatens to create more damage in the future than it already does. They may talk the talk, but will only get approval if they walk the walk.