Leo Varadkar has been branded ‘shocking’ and ‘dangerous’ after making controversial comments about possible benefits to climate change.
The Taoiseach claimed that global warming could result in fewer deaths during winter as well as cheaper energy bills and warmer winters.
Varadkar was speaking at the launch of the first progress report of the government’s Climate Action Plan.
The Fine Gael leader said: “One thing that we definitely face as a result of climate change is warmer winters. We’re already experiencing warmer winters, and that actually means using less energy because it’s warmer and people need less heating, and it also means fewer deaths as a result of cold weather.
“It’s interesting that when you do look at those things, that there is a ledger and there are benefits and there are downsides. The downsides outweigh the benefits but we need to be aware of them too.”
Varadkar’s comments have caused concern among politicians, members of the public and climate activists as the Climate Action Plan is what sets out the government’s commitments to tackling climate change up to 2030.
People Before Profit TD Brid Smith slammed the Taoiseach as ‘shocking’ and ‘dangerous’ and said he was blind to the issues.
Smith said: “These comments show us clearly that the Government, the people in charge of bringing our emissions down and implementing effective mitigation strategies, are simply blind to what climate change is doing and will do to this country and others around the world.
“The ridiculousness of this statement that climate change could have some benefits is just unbelievable and coming from the Taoiseach is really quite shocking.”
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan added: “It might be the case in Ireland there are fewer deaths but it won’t be the case in other parts of the world.
“And to say to those people that ‘we’ll be alright thank you because it’ll be slightly warmer in our country’ is no comfort to people whose livelihoods are threatened.”
Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling