Dr Marie Aronsson-Storrier, Niamh Guiry, Dr Archishman Bose, Claudia Hihetah, Dearbhla Richardson, and Dr Kian Mintz-Woo, members of UCC's COP28 delegation. Photo: Michael McSweeney/Provision

Former president in Cork to call for climate action

World leaders must show more ambition at COP28, former president of Ireland Mary Robinson has said ahead of her appearance at a Cork major climate conference today.

Ms Robinson will this morning call for greater ambition on climate action at the Sustainable Futures Forum at UCC.

According to Ms Robinson, world leaders will need step up their efforts in phasing out the use fossil fuels if there is any hope in limiting global warming increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2023.

Currently, almost 90% of energy used in Ireland is provided by the combustion of fossil fuels.

Ms Robinson said: “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,” she added.

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.

Ms Robinson’s comments come as one of Ireland’s leading energy experts warns that Ireland is not on track to meet its statutory carbon budget target for the period 2021-2025.

Prof Brian Ó Gallachóir, Director of UCC’s Environmental Research Institute (ERI) said this represents a “real test” of Ireland’s climate ambition.

“We have collectively the necessary knowledge, financial resources, and technologies,” said Ó Gallachóir.

“However, we haven’t managed to muster the necessary levels of political will or build sufficient societal capacity to achieve the goals we have agreed on,” he added.

UCC is sending a delegation of students, academics, and researchers to the upcoming COP28 global summit in Dubai. The summit runs from 30 November to 12 December.

This year, UCC has redistributed three of its badges granting access to COP to climate activists from Columbia, Kenya, and South Africa in order to increase the representation of people from the Global South at the discussions.

Prof Ó Gallachóir continued: “As we approach COP28, I hope to see the world leaders agree on a timed phase-out of fossil fuels - this would be a very significant breakthrough on a matter resisted to date, and would complement the International Energy Agency call for a tripling of renewable energy by 2030.”

Today’s forum will also be attended by experts from the World Bank and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The event will also highlight the voices of activists across the world.

The Sustainable Futures Forum can be watched online from 9am today with Mary Robinson due to speak at 12pm. For more information visit .ucc.ie/en/sustainable-futures-forum/.