Statements on COP27

Statements on COP27

I thank the Cathaoirleach Gníomhach for giving me the opportunity to get out of the Chair slightly early so that I could take a speaking slot. Although it might seem frivolous, when reflecting on the achievements and otherwise of COP 27, I think of the Sergio Leone film, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”. We saw much of each. I will work back, beginning with the ugly. Before COP 27 ever convened, I spoke about my unease with Coca-Cola acting as a title sponsor and my unease in respect of Egypt’s record of human rights abuses. I was very taken by Deputy Creed’s contribution earlier in this debate. He spoke about the jamboree or circus surrounding COP 27. There is no doubt it is an unwieldy process. It absolutely is, but it is the best we have until something better comes along. There is no way to deal with this issue other than through multilateralism. Deputy Creed has been out there and his experience is invaluable. Perhaps there are ways to reform it but, at the moment, it is the best we have.

To work backwards to the bad, there were disappointments in this COP, as the Minister knows well. There was a significant watering down in this language about low emissions technology, which leaves the door open for fossil fuels. We need to move our language towards the phasing out of fossil fuels and away from last year’s language of phasing them down. That is not good enough and will not get us where we need to go.

The bad and the ugly were rolled together in the presence of 600 fossil fuel industry lobbyists. As Deputy Creed said, many small island developing states and African countries will have been able to afford to send far fewer representatives than the fossil fuel companies.

I will join with others in noting that it was very difficult to get the issue of loss and damage funding on the agenda for this COP. It was only included at the very last minute. It was a significant mark of respect for the Minister’s leadership in this area that he was chosen to be the EU’s chief negotiator on what was the most contentious and fundamental issue of this COP. It was a huge achievement on the part of the Minister himself and, more importantly, the dedicated team of civil servants he brought with him, who achieved an incredible amount of work in a short space of time. In describing how the impact of climate change on vulnerable countries has been ignored, the environment correspondent from the BBC, Matt McGrath, not to be confused with Deputy Mattie McGrath, said, “For decades the victims of a changing climate were the ghosts the richer world just couldn’t see.” I found that very poignant because many of those small island developing states – I think of places like Tuvalu – are already, in some senses, ghosts. We know the global heating we have built into our atmosphere means these island states will be inundated. It was very important for Ireland to step up to the plate and ensure those ghosts, people in the developing world, were made visible because we owe our place on the UN Security Council to the votes of small island developing states. To keep the Sergio Leone reference going, the loss and damage facility was “A Fistful of Dollars”. As it ratchets up, we need to look “For a Few Dollars More”, to fit the full trilogy in.

I will comment briefly on the approach of this House to both today’s debate and the debate on climate change. It is not good enough for us in the Green Party to be good at this. We need everybody in this House to upskill and to be better. I would have liked to see members of the Opposition travel to COP 27.

I would still like to see members of the Opposition travel to Montreal. It is important we all pull in the same direction because too often we say we would like climate action but not this one. As a House, we all need to work together, to be honest with people and to really explain the scale of the challenge and the depth of the change needed.