Former President Mary Robinson warned that people under the age of 60 would inherit a «less livable» world with more floods and droughts and people forced to leave their homes.
On Sunday, nearly 200 countries agreed to a deal to tackle climate change at the COP26 summit, but last-minute negotiations with China and India softened the language of coal phase-out.
The agreement aims to reduce fossil fuel use and increase financing for developing countries, but it refers to a «phasing down» of coal energy, rather than a phase-out.
She said some progress was made at Cop26, which she attended, but some delegates returned home «in desperation» in hopes of not meeting the 1.5-degree climate target.
“When the Climate Action Tracker announced during Cop, that after he added up where we were, we were headed for a 2.4-degree world. That’s when I had my emotional moment because I know that means,” she told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
“This means that anyone under the age of 60 in our world is likely to have a world that is less livable in which they face terrible fires, terrible floods, terrible droughts, and millions of people are forced to leave their homes.
“And surely anyone under the age of thirty will live in this world. That is what we are talking about.”
She said agreements had been reached on the phase-out of oil and gas, with the Irish government agreeing to this phase-out, while there had also been a «significant shift» in the financial sector.
It was important that the voices of the most vulnerable were heard by «those at the top». She added that the world was now in a «crisis situation».
Robinson said what happens locally from now on will make a difference, and spoke of her pride in her hometown of Ballina, Ko Mayo, which organized a climate event last week to coincide with Cop26.
She called on the government to invest so that people have more access to «become green».
Ms Robinson, who is also chair of the Elders, an independent group of world leaders working together for peace, justice and human rights, acknowledged that the fossil fuel lobby was present at Cop26.
She said Saudi Arabia «always plays a very bad match in a cup.»
She said that there had been attempts in Cop26 to remove the wording regarding youth, human rights and a just transition.
Robinson warned that some tax breaks are «killing us» and that subsidy cuts could have serious consequences for some people. They needed to think carefully.
Meanwhile, in a Twitter post, the Chinese Embassy in Ireland shared data from 2019 showing per capita fossil fuel consumption from 2019.
The data, from Our World in Data, showed that China had the fourth lowest per capita consumption of the 13 selected countries, at 23,373 kWh.
However, the data does not take into account the size of the country’s population, which is the largest in the world, which currently stands at 1.4 billion.
Irish climate NGOs also expressed disappointment with the Cop26 outcome.
Oisín Coghlan of Friends of the Earth Ireland said the summit in Glasgow was «a starting point, not an end line».
«Two steps forward and one step back to the annual climate talks is deeply disappointing but we should make any modest gains from Glasgow,» he added.
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