Pope Francis has been urged to use his visit to Ireland next month to highlight Government inaction on climate change as targets continue to be missed despite political promises.
Éamonn Meehan, executive director of Trócaire, said that the Pope’s leadership on a vital issue like climate change that imperils the future of the planet “will resonate with the public” during his August 25-26 visit.
“I would really hope that Pope Francis would address climate change when in Ireland in the context of the urgent need to care for our common home,” he said.
Mr Meehan warned that Ireland currently faces huge fines if it doesn’t reach its targets set out under the Paris climate change agreement.
Since the Paris agreement in December 2015 Ireland has “made no progress really”, he told The Irish Catholic.
“We’re absolutely without question going to miss our 2020 targets for emission reduction, and there is also a strong possibility that if we just continue under present policies that we will miss our 2030 targets as well,” he said.
He added that he feels there is a lack of urgency pointing out that when Ireland does fail to reach its 2020 target to cut carbon emissions it will be subject to fines of hundreds of millions of euro.
This comes as the Oireactas is expected to pass the Fossil Fuels Divestment Bill this week, which aims to drop investments in coal, gas and oil from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF).
The hope from climate change activists is that there will be investment in renewable energy instead of over 100 fossil fuel based companies that the ISIF currently buy into.
Mr Meehan described it as a “good start” and said that it was a “key component” in changing the narrative of the future.
Mr Meehan was speaking after attending a conference in Rome entitled ‘Saving our Common Home and the Future of Life on Earth’ marking the third anniversary of the publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment Laudato Si’.
Mr Meehan said Pope Francis is calling for a political and ecological conversion.
“By that he means leaders and citizens across the world understand the dangerous state of our planet and the fact that we need to respond in a very dramatic way to climate change and the destruction of the environment that is taking place all around us.”