Taoiseach urges UN to respond to ‘alarm bells’ over Covid, conflict and climate change

Taoiseach urges UN to respond to ‘alarm bells’ over Covid, conflict and climate change

TAOISEACH Micheál Martin did not mince words in his recent speech to the United Nations General Assembly, as he emphasised the urgent challenges pose by Covid, armed conflict, and climate change.

He told the Assembly that a series of alarm bells had sounded over these issues and that now is the time to respond.

He said: "The United Nations is a symbol of hope for billions of people around the world.

"The people of the world now look to us, to this General Assembly Hall, to act and to lead. We cannot let them down.”

Martin described Climate change as “the defining challenge of our generation,” linking it not only to existential planetary risk, but to a host of other global challenges.

He said: “We have heard the argument that issues like climate, hunger and human rights do not belong in the Security Council. That there are other fora to discuss these issues. That they do not belong in discussions of international peace and security.

“Let me be very clear. We reject that argument.

“It is not a case of either/or.

“We know that climate change not only impedes sustainable development but also contributes to conflict.”

For Ireland’s part, he pledged a 51% reduction in emissions by 2030 compared with 2018 levels, and said that it would follow the European Union’s ambition to hit net zero by 2050.

He also raised the issues surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic.

The jolt to the global system over the past few years has "put into stark relief the simple, and regrettable, fact that we have not made sufficient progress in reducing poverty, increasing access to quality health care and education nor, in combating the climate crisis,” Martin told the Assembly.

The moral challenge posed by Covid-19 vaccine inequality also demands a coordinated international response, the Taoiseach said while urging member states to support the COVAX mechanism that distributes vaccines to low-income countries.

Mr Martin said that Ireland takes its obligations as a non-permanent member the UN Security Council seriously, and emphasised Ireland's contribution to issues such as he Iran Nuclear Deal, the ongoing armed conflict in Ethiopia, women’s rights in Afghanistan, as well as its historic contributions to peacekeeping operations.