The head of the state’s environmental watchdog has warned about rising levels of eco-fatigue and eco-anxiety in the young. Laura Burke, director general of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said while science shows that the challenges posed by the climate crisis are substantial and could be considered overwhelming, we must find ways to “match the uncomfortable evidence with optimism for the future”.
“All of us have a responsibility to not alone bring forward the uncomfortable evidence, but to also build optimism through the identification of solutions, the celebration of successes, the embracing of necessary change, and delivering on commitments,” she said. “And if we can use this power to propel the change necessary, we can begin to imagine a better future for ourselves, our children and generations to come.”
She made her comments at the 15th Annual Environment Ireland Conference where she said Ireland is living beyond its carbon and environmental means. “It is now accepted globally that we are facing a climate emergency but it has not arrived suddenly or without warning,” Ms Burke said.
“The build-up of pollutants in our atmosphere and waters, the gradual loss of biodiversity, the contamination of land – these are insidious, incremental challenges to our environment and health that have been borne out by scientific evidence, including that of the EPA, for many years. What we now need is urgent transformational change based on what the evidence is telling us.”
Climate Action Minister Richard Bruton said the Government’s Climate Action Plan will ensure the state meets its 2030 climate commitments and “will put our economy on a more sustainable path for future generations”.
But Ms Burke challenged the public and policy-makers to step up to the task. “It is up to us – as individuals – to take ownership of environmental issues and take action, both in our personal and business lives. Actions on a personal level to reduce carbon consumption have the associated benefits of healthier lives, better air quality and more local connection and engagement,” she said.