Ireland’s gay Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has come under fire after he said there are “pluses and minuses” to the climate emergency.
Varadkar made the comments last Thursday at the launch of the Irish government’s first progress report on its climate action plan.
When health minister Simon Harris noted that the climate emergency could cause an increase in rates of skin cancer, Varadkar tried to look on the bright side of the crisis.
Leo Varadkar is glad that Ireland will have warmer winters as a result of the climate emergency.
“It’s interesting to see that there can be pluses and minuses as well, like actually one thing that we definitely face as a result of climate change is warmer winters,” Varadkar said, according to TheJournal.ie.
“We’re already experiencing warmer winters, and that actually means using less energy, because it’s warmer. And people use less heating and also that means fewer deaths as a result of cold weather.”
He also noted that there are “down sides” to the climate emergency such as heat-related deaths.
“The downsides outweigh the benefits but we need to be aware of them too,” Varadkar continued.
Research suggests the climate emergency could see entire cities erased by 2050.
The Taoiseach has attracted significant criticism for the comments, which came just days after new research revealed that the climate emergency could cause sea levels to rise so significantly that some of the world’s cities could be erased as soon as 2050.
The research – which was released last Tuesday – revealed that this process is likely to happen up to three times faster than previously expected. The study suggested that 150 million people are currently living on land that will be below the high-tide line by 2050.
We’re already experiencing warmer winters, and that actually means using less energy, because it’s warmer. And people use less heating and also that means fewer deaths as a result of cold weather.
Extinction Rebellion climate activists are set to stage a protest today at the entrance to Dáil Eireann, Ireland’s parliament, in response to Varadkar’s comments.
They will sunbathe on sun loungers and will also have beach balls, snorkels, flippers, a body board and a sun parasol as part of the demonstration.
Varadkar’s comments were labelled ‘dangerous’.
People Before Profit politician Brid Smith hit out at the Taoiseach over his “shocking” and “dangerous” comments.
“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,” Smith said.
“The ridiculousness of this statement that climate change could have some benefits is just unbelievable and coming from the Taoiseach is really quite shocking.”
The Environmental Protection Agency in Ireland recently revealed that the country exceeded greenhouse gas emissions allocation by more than five million tonnes in 2018.