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Ireland becomes second country to declare 'climate emergency'

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Ireland becomes second country to declare 'climate emergency'
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Ireland has become the second country in the world to declare a climate and biodiversity emergency.

It happened after the Oireachtas (Irish parliament) report on Climate Action was accepted by the government and opposition parties without a vote.

Ireland followed in the footsteps of the United Kingdom, which declared a climate emergency earlier this month after 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg addressed MPs urging more climate action and in the wake of protests by climate action group Extinction Rebellion.

Irish TD Timmy Dooley who tabled the amendment to declare a "climate and biodiversity emergency" and to endorse a cross-party report laying a road map for climate action, told Euronews that "the declaration in the first instance was about accepting that we have been effectively we have been very poor at making the changes that we need to."

Ireland was ranked lowest in Europe for climate policy implementation in the Climate Change Performance Index 2019.

Dooley added that although the declaration of a climate emergency is largely symbolic, that coupled with the parliamentary report, Ireland could be on the path to real change.

The development was applauded by the chair of the Climate Action Committee Hildegarde Naughton who added: "action was now needed".

The leader of the Green party Eamon Ryan also welcomed the news added it was important to act now on the report.

Thunberg applauded the news.

Other were, however, more sceptical on what this actually meant.

Deputy Bríd Smith, of Solidarity/People Before Profit, asked whether this meant that the government would support her bill to limit oil and gas exploration, invest in offshore wind, and make public transport free.

For now, there is no set definition of what a "climate emergency" is so each government will have to define how they prepare for this new development.

But according to recent Eurostat data, Ireland's fight against climate change might be improving. The island nation was the third country after Portugal and Bulgaria to reduce its CO2 emissions in 2018.

However, Ireland did not feature among the eight EU countries, which called on Wednesday for more ambition on tackling climate change ahead of a European summit in Sibiu, Romania.