“Is this how our story is due to end – a tale of the smartest species doomed by that all too human characteristic of failing to see the bigger picture in pursuit of short-term goals?”
Those were the sobering words of one of the most instantly recognisable and trusted figures of recent modern history, David Attenborough, as he spoke of the existential crisis around climate change at the Cop26 event in Glasgow.
The natural historian and legendary broadcaster was one of many who spoke at the event about the planet’s collision course with disaster – but crucially, he offered a ray of hope to the 25,000 in attendance at the world’s largest climate change event for years.
“Perhaps the fact that the people affected by climate change are no longer some imagined future generations but young people alive today, perhaps that will give us the impetus we need to rewrite our story, to turn this tragedy into a triumph,” Mr Attenborough said.
US president Joe Biden, weakened from a tough month at home with climate provisions struggling to remain intact in his $1.75trn (€1.5trn) economic package, nevertheless took a firm stance on the climate crisis in Glasgow.
He told fellow world leaders there was “no more time to hang back” or “argue amongst ourselves” about the crisis facing the planet. He echoed Mr Attenborough in his appraisal that acting decisively now could help reverse the course.
“In an age where this pandemic has made so painfully clear that no nation can wall itself off from borderless threats, we know that none of us can escape the worst that’s yet to come, if we fail to seize this moment,” Mr Biden said.
Earlier, Taoiseach Micheál Martin told the Irish Examiner he was encouraged by the Biden administration’s attitude to climate change, after four years of inaction and denial by Donald Trump.
Mr Martin said climate change would form a major part of any future State visit to Ireland for Mr Biden, an Irish-American with ancestral roots in Connacht, and that the invitation remains firmly open.
“Joe Biden is more than welcome to come here when he wishes, we’ve made that clear to him and will do so again. He has been very strong on climate change, to be fair to him – creating a new momentum around it, in partnership with the EU,” Mr Martin said.
The Taoiseach was also firm in his language on climate change, saying “the time had come for action, not more rhetoric”.
“Fundamentally, it’s about translating rhetoric into action. That is what Cop26 has to be about. I think the Paris Agreement was a very significant agreement. Then there was a setback when Donald Trump led the US out of Paris. It was four years before the re