MARY ROBINSON: Covid response is the model for green revolution

MARY ROBINSON: Covid response is the model for green revolution

Tue 20 Oct 2020 by Evan Short

Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson says she is confident the public effort to contain Covid-19 can be harnessed to lead a similar revolution in dealing with climate change.

Speaking at peace building charity Co-operation Ireland’s latest Local Authority Programme webinar on Wednesday (October 7), the former head of state said the bottom up approach was the way to drive down greenhouse gasses and protect the environment.

The charity’s All-Island Local Authority Forum was created to share best practice and information on issues of importance to both jurisdictions on the island and the Forum comprises 10 chief executives from local authorities across the island of Ireland.

“Although (climate change) it is indeed a global priority, it has to be addressed locally if change is to happen,” said the former president”.

“At the moment, understandably, it’s Covid-19 which is dominating our lives, and yet the climate crisis is much more serious and it is still looming”.

“What is needed is a bottom up- all of people approach to match the top-down programme of government, and I think we can learn through a deep conversation with all of us, what are the lessons from Covid-19”?

“We can learn for example, that collective human behaviour matters. It’s the only thing protecting us from the virus because we are complying with social distancing….and hand washing and other guidelines”.

“It’s a power, and it’s a power we need to remember as we come out of Covid to a green recovery because we are going to have to reduce our consumption. We are going to have to be less wasteful. We are going to have to learn new sustainable habits”.

“The programme for government 2020 is a good beginning with its commitment to a new green deal and a proposed climate action bill  (and) the measures proposed are undoubtedly far reaching and informative but they will need to be implemented with a shared sense of urgency, which has to penetrate every aspect of Irish life.”

Mrs Robinson also commented on how female led administrations around the world appeared to be handling the global pandemic better than their male counterparts.

“Government matters, and I am pleased to see women led governments have done better because they have listened to the science, they have taken tough decisions early and they have brought their people with them.”

This keynote address kicked off Co-operation Ireland’s All-Island Local Authority Forum Public Sector Leadership in Climate Action webinar series – the fourth event of 2020.

Over 150 personnel from the public sector across the island of Ireland participated in the first of three webinars that begin an important conversation on translating climate actions into practice at a local level. 

The integration of spatial planning and energy planning was discussed as an important consideration for local authorities.

To find out more about the Local Authority Programme and Co-operation Ireland’s work to forge relationships across the UK and Ireland click here.