Every year in Ireland we each produce 17 tonnes of greenhouse gases
that's enough to fill 2 million balloons for each and every one of us.
Driving to work, building and heating our homes,
powering industry, commerce, food production
every move we make is backed by energy from fossil fuels.
These gases are invisible to the eye and we took them for granted
until we started noticing their effects.
Now there is no avoiding climate change, it is well under way and accelerating.
Even if all emissions were halted now
the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will go on warming it for centuries.
We now have to completely rethink our use of fossil fuels
and find solutions before we run out of time to act.
This is a daunting task.
Last year was a big year globally for climate change.
The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change
told the world in no uncertain terms how serious the situation is,
their work was rewarded with the Nobel Peace Prize.
The EU was the first to lead the way forward and accept its responsibilities.
It announced new tough targets of its own.
In England the Stern Report to the British Government showed
that if we act now it is still possible
to make the necessary reductions to limit warming.
Water shortages, fires, hurricanes and flooding again made headlines
and glaciers with ice hundreds of thousands of years old
continued to melt, shattering all records.
We were shocked to see the North West Passage melting
enough to become navigable, something we never considered possible.
Al Gore also got a Nobel Peace Prize for his contribution
and an Oscar for bringing "An Inconvenient Truth" to the big screen.
Global warming is now a reality
that even diehard sceptics find hard to deny
and it looks as though the timeframe for solutions is even shorter than we think.
If we do nothing to correct our actions
we can expect a rise of 5 to 6 degrees Centigrade across the planet
by the end of this century with devastating consequences.
So how did we get here?
We made a mistake in the world, it's just how we have evolved
because fossil fuels were wonderful and they allowed us to do wonderful things
but nobody anticipated that putting all of these emissions,
carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere would have this effect.
The latest report which came out said that the science is unequivocal.
The science is now very confident that we are actually changing
the nature of the climate system.
The climate in the Twenty-First Century is going to be quite different
from anything we have experienced during the whole period of civilisation
6000 to 10,000 years.
We're pushing into unknown territory
and science cannot always tell you what's going to happen.
Well Ireland is really a very poor relation in all of this
we got a very generous 13% increase on our 1990 levels in the Kyoto negotiations
and in fact we are well above that in our emissions.
The EU is committing to a 20% reduction by 2020
and even going beyond that to a 30% reduction by 2020.
So it really is a huge challenge because as we all know
our emissions have been increasing fairly rapidly
so we are not just going to flatten out but we are going to have to cut back.
They've set themselves a target of reducing CO² emissions by 3% every year -
never been achieved in history before, by any economy.
so you need a sustained national effort with all the stakeholders buying into it.
The good news is that although we have been buying our way out of our obligations
our potential for reducing our greenhouse gases here at home is good.
The Celtic Tiger may have sky rocketed our emissions
but it has also given us the money we need to invest in solutions.
Now quite simply it's payback time.
People need to realise that the lifestyle
that we are currently living is unsustainable
and it is leading to increased CO² emissions
and we have a part to play;
people need to realise that they are part of that problem
and they can offer a solution as well.
Tackling climate change means taking greenhouse gases out wherever we can.
Agriculture has twice the global average of emissions
because of our huge numbers of cattle and sheep.
Large savings could be made by
bringing our poor performing buildings up to standard
and our transport still stands as a record of failure
with so many opportunities for public transport and rail freight wasted.
It is absolutely crazy to have people driving a hundred miles,
200 miles per day in single occupancy cars, to and from work.
We need leadership on this issue
as we've lost so many opportunities through poor infrastructural planning.
Locked now into our cars,
on motorways clogged like arteries
leading to towns at the end of massive commutes,
we can rightly look back at all the routes we could have taken to today's Ireland.
Now because of climate change
we will have to redo so much of what we have done.
You can have a Climate Change Strategy
but if people continue to lead unsustainable lifestyles
and if there isn't inter-departmental thinking, if you like,
if you have the Department for Transport doing one thing,
the Department of Agriculture doing another
then I'm afraid a National Climate Change Strategy won't achieve very much.
People are beginning to accept the science of climate change
they are immediately asking "what can we do about it?"
They're looking for leadership to solve this problem
because the consequences are very severe.
Anybody with children wants to hand on a world in as good a shape as we got it.
To actually cut emissions at home
we need to reduce waste and inefficiencies
and bring online all our renewable energy sources.
We've huge natural resources,
with the rising price of oil and gas in a shrinking world market
we would have been forced to make the switch out of fossil fuels anyway.
Gordon Brown announced his plan to embark
on a wind power revolution that will produce enough wind energy
to power every home in Britain by 2020.
If they can do that in the UK,
imagine what we could do here with our natural advantages
and greater wind speeds?
And I for one delight and revel in the fact that oil's gone so expensive
because only now are people beginning to be motivated,
big business, governments all around the world saying
"we cannot be dependent any longer on this source
that brought us all our wealth so far, we've got to change."
And of course when humans are faced with any challenge
they're brilliant at changing and we are brilliant at changing.
All we need is the motivation.
0:00:00 / 0:00:00