In addition to the business argument for action on climate change, moral and ethical reasons also provide impetus for positive change.
If we do not take action to prevent climate change, Ireland, along with the rest of the world, will experience further climatic changes, in the form of higher temperatures, extreme and unpredictable weather events, and higher sea levels. Even if we were to stop emitting greenhouse gases now, the effects of our recent emissions will still be felt over the next 30-40 years. Therefore, we must recognise as a collective public that our actions now will negatively impact future generations. We must reduce our carbon emissions now.
Furthermore, the effects of climate change will vary in different regions. Developing countries are likely to experience the most extreme climate changes and these are the countries that have less capacity to adapt and take protective measures against climate change. The overall effects of climate change are predicted to be highly negative and will have major social, economic, and environmental implications for countries around the world.
The predicted negative effects of climate change compromise our ability to achieve the goal of sustainable development (which recognises the interdependency of economic, social and environmental progress). Sustainable development requires that we take measures to ensure we meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generation to meet their own needs (Bruntland Commission, Our Common Future, 1987).
Collective action to avoid climate change and its negative impacts is necessary across all sectors of society in order to fulfil our ethical responsibilities to protect our environment and global society, now and in the future. Therefore, action in the private sector has the possibility to make a real impact on Ireland’s emissions. Businesses can make a real contribution in helping Ireland to reach its Kyoto targets and the new proposed EU target of 40% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030.
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