We are “green” beyond St Patrick’s Day

Without action on climate change, Ireland will no longer be as green as it is now.

The Bardejov UNESCO world heritage site turns green on St. Patrick's Day. The Bardejov UNESCO world heritage site turns green on St. Patrick's Day. (Source: Courtesy by the Irish Embassy)

Hilda Ó Riain is the Irish Ambassador to Slovakia

Every year on the 17th of March Irish people and friends of Irish people around the world celebrate St Patrick’s Day, and the colour green trends for that day to reflect the green landscape of Ireland. In Slovakia we will “green” a record number of landmarks this year, including in Bardejov and Martin for the first time.

Related articleBuildings across Slovakia will turn green Read more 

We will also “green” Ecorec, an innovative Irish owned company in Pezinok that is processing non-recyclable waste into alternative fuel, helping to reduce carbon emissions in Slovakia.

However, without action on climate change, Ireland will no longer be as green as it is now. In 2021 the Irish Government adopted concrete and ambitious targets for faster and fairer climate action. We have agreed to work towards an average 7 percent per annum reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions from 2021-2030, and net zero by 2050 – ambitions which align with Slovak targets.

All of this is in response to what is demanded of us by our citizens. Between 2016 and 2018, as an experiment in participatory democracy, the Citizens’ Assembly drew 99 citizens from all walks of life together to consider complex issues of public policy, including climate change.

The Assembly’s recommendations on climate change were significantly more ambitious than anything that had gone before and laid the basis for our current action.

Our efforts are already beginning to transform our regions and cities including through the development of cycling lanes and greenways all over the country. We are investing more in renewable energy, including both offshore and onshore wind energy. We are accelerating the electrification of the transport system in Ireland, and retrofitting homes.

In Ireland, we are aware how high the stakes are. Climate change is affecting and will continue to affect our biodiversity, our agriculture, our water resources and our coastal environment.

As part of our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, Ireland has promised to double the percentage of our Oversea Development Aid spending on climate finance by 2030 and to place climate action at the heart of all development cooperation.

Looking at climate action within the framework of the SDGs is a way of reminding ourselves how far reaching the effects of climate change can be on every aspect of a person’s life – in terms of economic growth, decent jobs, our oceans and ecosystems and the way we consume and produce.

Ireland currently holds a seat on the UN Security Council, and we have committed to push for the inclusion of climate in discussions there.

With Slovakia and our other EU partners, we have welcomed the European Green Deal, the European Commission’s overarching plan to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, while boosting the competitiveness of European industry and ensuring a just transition for the regions and workers affected. We will work with Slovakia to achieve these aims for the sake of our citizens and our planet.

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