Environmentalists have heaped scorn on Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s prime minister, after he said the climate crisis could have benefits such as warmer winters, lower heating bills and fewer deaths. Some called the comments silly and weird, others branded them irresponsible. The taoiseach made the comments in Dublin last week at the launch of an upbeat progress report on the government’s climate action plan. “One thing we definitely face as a result of climate change is a warmer winter. 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,” he said. “It’s interesting that when you do look at those things 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.” Irish Doctors for the Environment, an advocacy group, wrote to Varadkar on Monday saying the climate crisis had an “overwhelmingly negative effect on human health”. It asked him to retract and “address the errors” in his speech. Other environmental campaigners expressed anger and disbelief. The spat came as climate experts warned that a catastrophic storm during high tide will flood thousands of homes, businesses and landmark buildings in Dublin in the coming decades. Peter Thorne, a lead author on the fifth assessment report of the UN’s intergovernmental panel on climate change, said Ireland had so far been able to “dodge a bullet” because storms have struck during low tides. Ireland is one of the EU’s worst carbon emission offenders and faces fines of more than €250m (£216m) for missing 2020 targets on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adopting renewable energy.
Guardian 4th Nov 2019 read more »