Thursday 22 April 2021


I welcome the pledge from President Biden and the United States this afternoon to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and to reach net-zero by 2050 at the latest. This is a very hopeful and concrete step on Earth Day to tackle climate change.

Only through unity in our efforts can we address climate change. I welcome President Biden’s leadership for increased climate action and his initiative to bring urgency to this challenge in hosting today’s Summit.  We need to lead by example and work for a just transition in our own countries, regions, and communities, and also worldwide.

Increased ambition and accelerated action are needed if we are to progress and achieve the commitments we signed up to under the Paris Agreement. The increased ambition of the US announced today, together with the new, increased target of at least 55% emissions cut by 2030 by the European Union, sets a new standard for global leaders to embrace and lead the charge in the road to COP26.   It is also significant that other leaders are increasing their ambition for 2030, including Japan, Canada, and South Africa.

The ambition in the US pledge aligns with Ireland’s increased ambition as set out in the provisions in Ireland’s Climate bill, which I introduced in the Oireachtas (parliament) yesterday.  I am confirming Ireland’s commitment in the summit session on Climate Adaptation and Resilience this afternoon and am proud to say that the Irish people are stepping up to the plate.

Our new climate legislation, to be enacted shortly, commits Ireland to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest, and a 51% reduction in emissions by 2030 (as compared to 2018). These targets are some of the most ambitious of any developed country, fully in line with our Paris Agreement obligations and IPCC advice.

We have already shown leadership in our international development policy and intend to at least double the percentage of our Official Development Assistance spending on climate finance by 2030.

Ireland is proud that 99% of our international climate finance supports adaptation by and with the most vulnerable, who have contributed the least to climate change.  It is also overwhelmingly grant-based.

We must continue to support local communities in the least developed countries, including small-scale farmers, to use land sustainably to protect and re-generate local ecosystems. We will champion this issue at the UN general assembly this September and at the COP26 meeting in Glasgow. We will also continue to support efforts on the ground to promote climate-smart agriculture as we have done in countries like Malawi over the last five years.

Adaptation is also a key focus of Ireland’s agriculture policy. As a country with a large agriculture sector, we realise that producing more food while at the same time combating climate change is one of the most important policy changes we face both nationally and internationally. Climate solutions here at home need to support adaptation and resilience for family farms.

Quality adaptation work that prioritises nature-based solutions is not simply important for climate and biodiversity, it can also help build peace. This is a linkage which Irelands makes into our wider climate diplomacy work, including in our leadership role on the UN Security Council in the area of Climate and Security.