Belfast Telegraph

Lifestyle changes necessary to tackle climate change, says minister

‘The window for opportunity is closing. The decisions we take now will define the next century,’ Richard Bruton said.

The Environment Minister has said the public must realise that changes will have to be made to their lives in order for Ireland to tackle climate change.

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Richard Bruton, held a consultation on Friday on the development of an all of government plan to make Ireland “a leader” in responding to the environmental threat.

Representatives from industry, agriculture, NGOs, government departments, academia, as well as unions and employer bodies gathered in Croke Park to consider how best to address a number of matters across a range of sectors and the policy tools available.

“We need to step up our response to climate disruption.

“The window for opportunity is closing. The decisions we take now will define the next century,” Minister Bruton said.

“The future for Ireland is seizing opportunities in a de-carbonised world.

“I have to say honestly this will only happen if every home, every enterprise, every farm, every community recognises there is a change in their lifestyle that has to be the driver for a real practical outcome on this.

“This is a fundamental structure change, and if we want to be prosperous in 20 years time, we have to do this, but we can’t all be funded by government, every sector has to take responsibility.

“In new buildings there will be new energy requirements, regulatory changes and standards.

“In every sector, the building energy rating is going to be more central to transactions, so there will be new standards and time to achieve those.

“We’re going to see a number of nudges coming along and grants and tax can be a source of those nudges and shift how people think about these issues.

“There’s no doubt we’re 90% off the target we’ve set ourselves for 2020, and it’s self-evident we haven’t taken this issue as seriously as we should have.

“It hasn’t been integrated into policy, and that’s not pointing a finger at somebody, it’s a statement of truth.

“What’s very clear is people want a long-term framework and every sector is engaged.”

Last week the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that his party would be making climate change a focal point of their policy this year, and caused a minor furore when he said he personally had taken to eating less meat for “health and environmental reasons”, before saying the next day he had eaten at a steak restaurant that night, and wasn’t going “vegan or anything like that”.

When asked to comment on the Taoiseach’s dietary revelations Minister Bruton said that the agri-food sector must start planning long-term strategies as demand changes.

“Agriculture is a hugely important sector and what you have to recognise is that in 20 years’ time, the face of the demand chain may be different and its important agriculture has a long-term strategy as to how they can contribute to de-carbonisation and how it can be competitive when people’s choices may differ.”

Press Association

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