Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe need to pull together to save our planet and to save habitats and ecosystems before we reach a tipping point and time runs out.

Teachta Crowe said we all have our part to play and that buy-in and engagement from the public is key.

Teachta Crowe said:

“For the first time in history, we fully understand the damage that human beings are doing to our planet. Our planet is burning and this is probably the last opportunity we will have to put things right. It is heating up. Sea ice and glaciers are melting, animal habitats are disappearing and time is running out. Human beings are responsible for the greatest level of extinction since the most recent Ice Age.

“We need to act now because once we tip the balance, we will not get a second chance. It is already too late for vast areas of our planet, as rising seas engulf more land, fertile soil becomes sand, with vast dust plains replacing greenery.

“In pursuing climate action targets, we cannot underestimate the need for buy-in and engagement from the public. Citizen engagement has to be key to any climate action plan. Without really explaining this man-made crisis to people, a great deal of the change needed will never be made. We can have all the high policy we like, but if we do not have a grassroots approach, our green spaces, waterways and ecosystems will continue to decline and die.

“In my local area, I help a group called the Litter Mugs, who clear streams, rivers and public parks. There is a great sense of satisfaction after a long day of clearing great stretches of ground of plastic bottles, coffee cups, beer cans and all the other rubbish a minority leave behind. Unfortunately, in many cases, a week later one will find that much of that work has been undone.

“The river or park will be covered in plastic, including floating plastic, hundreds of broken bottles and every kind of rubbish known to man. Community outreach programmes rooted in community and voluntary organisations that encourage local communities to drive change at the local level should be a fundamental part of any climate action plan. Removing burnt-out cars and clearing pollution requires both time and money and uses up badly needed resources that could be invested in communities.

“I know of a GAA club in my own area, Croí Ró Naofa. Members recently told me that 84 cars had been burnt out in the local park in which they play since 1 January 2018. More needs to be done to support clubs such as Croí Ró Naofa.

“Words on paper will not help to solve the deep crisis facing us with regard to climate change and the pollution that is contributing to extreme environmental damage. Any plans must be fully resourced and funded by Government. Councils should not have to choose between clearing polluted sites and improving other public spaces. Again, the financial burden cannot fall entirely on local authorities. There must be a whole-of-government effort to put climate action at the heart of our policies and policy agendas.

“To paraphrase Bobby Sands, whose death occurred 40 years ago today, everyone has their part to play. We owe it to future generations to do things differently. That is what we are asking for. We all need to start doing things differently. We need to pull together to save our planet and to save those habitats and ecosystems.

“Most of all, we need to do things differently. There is a responsibility on us all to do so. Time is running out. We need to do more. That is the message we need to send out today. We need to do more and we need to do it ourselves.”