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Leo Varadkar’s comments on climate change slammed as 'dangerous and shocking'


Leo Varadkar’s comments on climate change were slammed as “dangerous” and “shocking” after suggesting there are benefits to global warming.

The Taoiseach has come under scrutiny for saying there are “pluses and minuses” to climate change and it could lead to “fewer deaths” due to cold weather.

During the launch of the Government’s first progress report on its Climate Action Plan last Thursday, Mr Varadkar suggested it could lead to lower heating bills and a reduction in cold weather related deaths.

He said: “We’re already experiencing warmer winters, and that actually means using less energy because it’s warmer and people need less heating, and it also means fewer deaths as a result of cold weather.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin where the First Progress Report on the Climate Action Plan 2019 was launched
 

“It’s interesting that when you look at those things, that there is a ledger and there are benefits and there are downsides. The downsides outweigh the benefits but we need to be aware of them too.”

The Fine Gael leader’s comments which were first reported in The Sunday Business Post have been met with widespread backlash from fellow politicians and members of the public. People Before Profit TD Brid Smith on Sunday labelled the comments as “shocking” and “dangerous” and said the Government was “blind” to the effects of climate change.

She said: “These comments show us clearly that the Government, the people in charge of bringing our emissions down and implementing effective mitigation strategies, are simply blind to what climate change is doing and will do to this country and others around the world.

Brid Smith TD
 

“The ridiculousness of this statement that climate change could have some benefits is just unbelievable and coming from the Taoiseach is really quite shocking.”

Ms Smith, the sponsor of the Climate Emergency Measures Bill to ban the further issuing of licences for fossil fuel exploration, said the Government “haven’t a clue about the danger and urgency of the climate crisis – the ignorance of the science and implications of climate change is breathtaking and depressing”.

Speaking last night, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said the Taoiseach should be focusing on our rising emissions.

He added: “It might be the case in Ireland there are fewer deaths but it won’t be the case in other parts of the world.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan TD at the Local and European Elections and divorce referendum counts in the RDS, Dublin
 

“And to say to those people that ‘we’ll be alright thank you because it’ll be slightly warmer in our country’ is no comfort to people whose livelihoods are threatened.”

According to the first Climate Action Plan progress report, 85% of the climate-related actions due to be delivered by the Government in the second and third quarters of this year have been met.

This is in contrast to figures released by the Environmental Protection Agency which showed Ireland exceeded its annual greenhouse gas emissions allocation by more than five million tonnes in 2018.

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