A recent article by Irish meteorologist Professor Ray Bates claimed that “increased uncertainty” in recent IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports on the likely course of future climate change means that Ireland need not take steps to urgently reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Rather, Prof. Bates argued that we should prioritise protection of our own, Irish, economic interests. The supposed scientific basis for Prof. Bates’s argument has now been criticised by Ireland’s leading climatologist, Professor John Sweeney (Professor Emeritus at Maynooth University, former Director of the Irish Climate Analysis and Research Unit, and a full IPCC contributing author).
In his critique, Prof. Sweeney states that the article by Prof. Bates contained numerous “scientific inaccuracies” and he goes on to detail how the article appears to engage in clear “cherry picking” and systematic misrepresention of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report “to suit Prof. Bates’s own arguments”. Prof. Sweeney affirms the unambiguous scientific consensus that far from slowing or stopping, the overall warming of the Earth is continuing, and indeed accelerating, and this is unequivocally associated with human activities. He goes on to say that it’s absolutely valid to describe the problem of climate change as a “planetary emergency”. He concludes by highlighting the need to view climate action in a context of global climate justice, and he firmly rejects narrow ‘national interest’ as a message Ireland should wish to send the world on this issue. Prof Sweeney’s remarks were endorsed by Barry McMullin, Chair of the An Taisce Climate Committee.
Meanwhile President Michael D Higgins this week addressed the European Economic, Social and Environmental Council’s climate change seminar in Paris. The conference focused on the involvement of citizens, with President Higgins saying the role of each citizen will be “decisive in reaching the ambitious agreement mankind needs”.