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Greater ambition on climate action needed at COP28 – Mary Robinson

• Former Irish President and Chair of The Elders Mary Robinson warns world leaders to show more ambition on the eve of COP28 summit.
• Ireland not on track to meet carbon budget targets 
• Mrs Robinson makes comments ahead of appearance at Sustainable Futures Forum in UCC.

Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson will call for greater ambition on climate action at a major climate conference at University College Cork (UCC) today (Monday, 27 November). The call comes as one of Ireland’s leading energy experts warns that Ireland is not on track to meet carbon budget targets.

World leaders will need to show greater ambition in phasing out the use fossil fuels at COP28 if there is any hope in limiting global warming increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2023, former President of Ireland Mary Robinson will warn today. Almost 90% of energy used in Ireland is provided by the combustion of fossil fuels.

Speaking ahead of her appearance at the Sustainable Futures Forum at UCC, Mrs Robinson said that climate justice that puts people first and creates fair outcomes for all must be central to the discussions.

"At COP28, we need to drive greater ambition on climate action among world leaders and governments. This is extremely important in order to keep 1.5 alive. For this, we need to phase out fossil fuels and scale up clean energy,” Mrs Robinson said.

“It is extremely important to put people first and create outcomes that are fair for those who are on the front lines of climate impacts. We need to prioritise climate justice and unlock finance in order to ensure a sustainable, just and equitable future that does not leave anyone behind. Ahead of COP28, I look forward to discussing these important issues at the Sustainable Futures Forum at University College Cork,” she said.

Major climate conference streamed online

Mrs Robinson is the keynote guest at the Sustainable Futures Forum, which will take place today in UCC’s Glucksman Gallery. RTÉ presenter Miriam O’Callaghan will MC the event, which will examine some of the key challenges facing Ireland as it seeks to meet ambitious targets set out in its Climate Action Plan.

Experts from the World Bank and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will convene in UCC, and the event will also highlight the voices of activists across the world. Farmer and journalist Hannah Quinn-Mulligan will moderate a discussion on rural and urban sustainability. Other topics will include the role of technology and innovation within industry, ensuring climate justice, and media's role on the subject of climate, in a forum which is available for the public to watch online.

Dr Marguerite Nyhan is Chair of the Sustainable Futures Forum, Associate Professor at UCC/ERI and Research Affiliate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She said Mrs Robinson is a groundbreaking leader who helped to shape modern Ireland, and a champion for climate justice and human rights worldwide. “Ahead of COP28, we look forward to welcoming Mrs Robinson to UCC to discuss the important issues of climate justice, loss and damage, and how to achieve a fair and just future for all,” Dr Nyhan said.

“We are currently in the midst of a climate and nature crises, and universities are an important convening point for constructive dialogue on the complexities of addressing our shared climate and sustainability challenges. It is hoped that COP28 will ensure that the goal of limiting long-term global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius remains achievable. This was agreed by almost 200 countries as part of the Paris Accord. We know from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that this target is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. However, the United Nations Environment Programme in their latest “emissions gap” report, has warned that we are on track for a 2.5 to 2.9 degrees Celsius world.

“At UCC, we look forward to welcoming experts from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the World Bank and major technology companies to discuss how to drive greater global ambition on climate action, how to finance the global clean energy transition, and how to foster innovative, fair and equitable solutions for a sustainable and net zero future,” Dr Nyhan said.

The Sustainable Futures Forum can be watched online from 9am today with Mary Robinson due to speak at 12pm. Watch online here