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EU warning on global warning demands greater urgency

6 September, 2004

Sinn Fein Environment Spokesperson, South Down MLA Willie Clarke has said that the recent report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) is warning that Europe is warming more quickly than the rest of the world with potentially devastating consequences, including more frequent heat waves, flooding, rising sea levels and melting glaciers.

Commenting on the Report Mr Clarke said:

"This report makes for very serious reading. Across Europe there is the threat that extreme weather will become more common unless global warming is slowed down. This means that the floods of 2001 that killed about 80 people and the heat wave of 2003 killed over 20,000 people, could become more frequent and severe.

"We need to put in place strategies to tackle global warning here on the island of Ireland and across the EU we need to lead by example. It is vital that we see much greater emphasis in ensuring that the Kyoto Protocol on cutting greenhouse gas emissions is implemented in full.

"While Europe has done much in leading worldwide efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is clear that we also need strategies at European, regional, national and local level to adapt to climate change. Sinn Fein believe that we need to see the establishment of an All Ireland Environmental Protection Agency to drive forward a strong environmental programme of enforcement and to stand up to the powerful vested interests who refuse to live up to obligations on emissions and pollution.

"The latest report paints a bleak picture of a Europe devastated by climate change. The study found that melting reduced the glaciers by one-tenth in 2003 alone and that 75 per cent of Alpine glaciers will have disappeared by 2050. Climate change since the Industrial Revolution, has accelerated in the last 50 years. Sea levels are predicted to rise, up to four times faster than during the last century, which poses a particular threat to communities living below sea-level.

"The concentration of the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, is 34 per cent higher than its pre-Industrial Revolution level, its highest for possibly 20 million years. The global warming rate is now almost 0.2°C per decade, and temperatures in Europe are projected to increase a further 2 to 6.3 degrees this century, due to the build-up of greenhouse gases.

"Climate change cannot be ignored. Sinn Fein is demanding:

  • Meaningful emissions targets for industry across the island to meet Kyoto Protocol.
  • Economic inducement for industry to reduce emissions and create incentives for industry innovation to develop clean technologies and to improve energy efficiency.
  • The European Union oversee the realisation of Kyoto goals within the agreed time-frame including the introduction of carbon taxes on energy users capable of making the change to lower emitting fuels.

Mr Clarke concluded:

"For any part of this island to attempt to buy its way to compliance with obligations under Kyoto through emissions trading is irresponsible because it will do nothing to actually reduce greenhouse gas levels. Ireland must play its part in tackling global warming." ENDS

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