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Speech by Sean Canney T.D., Minister of State for Communications, Climate Action and Environment


An Taisce Green Schools

Climate Ambassador awards ceremony


Speech by Sean Canney T.D.,

Minister of State for Communications,

Climate Action and Environment


2pm, Thursday 29 November 2018​


Fallon and Byrne,

11-17 Exchequer St,

Dublin 2,

D02 RY63


Thank you Michael-John and the Education Unit of An Taisce for inviting me here today.


I am delighted to have this opportunity to present the inaugural Climate Hero awards


I would like to express my appreciation to everybody involved in this the first year of the Climate Ambassador programme, for giving up your time to undertake actions ranging from hosting climate talks, participating in community festivals, carrying out climate workshops and being interviewed on national TV and radio.


The Climate Ambassador Programme is vital to help raise awareness about climate change and what individuals, communities and business can do to help address the problem.


Without a doubt, climate change is one of the single biggest challenges facing us all. 


The potential impacts of climate change are unprecedented. We are already starting to see these impacts across the globe.


Ireland will not be immune from these impacts. In line with global trends, we expect, in the coming decades, to encounter sea level rise, increased risk of flooding and increased intensity of extreme weather events.


As this year has starkly shown, we are already beginning to experience in Ireland the types of impacts that climate science has been predicting for some time.


The level of destruction, cost and disruption caused by events such as Storm Ophelia in October 2017, Storm Emma in March 2018, and the summer heatwave simply underscores this.


While Ireland's contribution to the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change may be relatively small by international standards, we nevertheless have a responsibility to make major cuts in these emissions.


This responsibility is in line with our commitments under the Paris Agreement as well as the latest scientific advice from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.


So we need to face up openly to this challenge as a society and identify, discuss and come to a shared vision on the actions we all, as individuals, communities, or Government, must take to address climate change.


It is important for us to tackle climate change, because we have promised to do our part in international agreements by achieving target outcomes, but more importantly because it will help to safeguard our future.


That's why we have hugely increased the amount of Government investment in this area and why we will be spending significantly more money on it in the coming years which were recently announced in the Governments new National Development Plan. 


Almost €22 billion will be directed to addressing the transition to a low-carbon and climate resilient society and a further €8.6 billion will be provided for investments in sustainable mobility.


This means that well over €1 in every €5 spent under the National Development Plan will be on climate action.


This investment will enable us to deliver a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the period to 2030 and help to build up the resilience of our infrastructure to future climate impacts.


But this is only the start of the work that we, in Government, need to do.


We will require transformational changes over the coming decades – in the way we generate our electricity; how we build, power and heat our homes; how we move around; and in how Irish agriculture provides stewardship of our land.


And the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report stated that we only have 12 years to act on climate. By getting involved in the An Taisce Climate Ambassador programme you are playing your part and helping to raise awareness amongst your peers and communities.


Tackling climate change means getting people to act – to change their behaviour, to make more environmentally responsible decisions, to use more renewables and use energy more wisely – so we can reduce our energy related emissions. 


Government are playing our part in setting the targets, providing the opportunities like grant schemes to make your homes more comfortable and more energy efficient.  But the size of the impact we can make depends on uptake – on people deciding to do the right thing.


That may sound quite simple, so why is not enough of it happening?  That's where you the Climate Ambassadors come in.   You have taken the opportunity to get involved and make a real contribution – taking actions to make your school, campus and communities more resilient to climate change and improving your local environment.


It's important also to remember that it is not all about the things we have to stop doing but things we can do too. There will be opportunities and we must be ready to take these opportunities and take steps towards becoming a world leader in tackling climate change.


I'm particularly keen to ensure that you maintain the strong and ongoing connection to this exciting Climate Ambassador Programme. You are the influencers in your community


I hope you will continue to support this important initiative and be proud of what you have achieved as the first ever Irish National Climate Ambassadors group.


You will not be on your own in this journey. By sharing our stories we can continue to mobilise our communities in a positive way.


Remember that climate actions can be as simple as cycling to school or hosting a climate conversation.


In concluding, I would like to sincerely thank you all once again for all the time and energy you have all put into to the last year. All your actions have made a difference


I hope you have enjoyed the day and I would like to wish you every success for the future.

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