I also will not listen to any old guff from some politicians about salaries. Let us face reality. Many Deputies regularly donate sections of their salaries to charities and voluntary groups. They do not look for gold medals or go on RTE looking for headlines. We do not make a big deal of it like some politicians in this House. That is the reality, with which I like dealing.
I strongly support Deputy O'Rourke's comments. She said that at most meetings she attends, she comes across people who say that it is great to have the Green Party in government, and most people with whom I talk say it is refreshing to see the Green Party in government. We have a responsibility to support the party. It is not rocket science. The Green Party has some new and radical ideas and, rather than simply attacking it every day with more guff and hot air, as has happened over the past seven or eight days, the best thing for us to do is to sit down and agree policies on the very important issues of climate change and recycling. It is very important for us to put these issues on the record. The two Green Party Ministers are doing an excellent job.
I also raised this issue in my talks with the Taoiseach in respect of the formation of the Government. Section 8 of my agreement with the Taoiseach is a strong section that deals with climate change and supports sensible solutions from any party that comes up with them. I agree with many parties in this House on particular issues. We have had the talk and hot air and are now looking for action and a solution. I have had enough of the talks about talks so let us go on and take action.
Speaking at a meeting of the intergovernmental panel on climate change, IPCC, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, told delegates that the humbling scenes he had witnessed were as "frightening as a science fiction movie". He said: "In Antarctica, the message was chillingly simple: the Continent's glaciers are melting." He went on to say: "In the Amazon, I saw how the rainforest — the "lungs of the earth" — is being suffocated." He described the fight against climate change as the defining challenge of our age, a position I support. We should listen to the UN Secretary General on this issue. His observations are backed up by the science contained in the IPCC fourth assessment report, which warns of the abrupt and irreversible consequences of climate change.
The message to all Members of this House is simple. It is not just about attacking the Green Party, which we should support, but politicians must agree a deal in upcoming talks in Bali to curb greenhouse gas emissions or the world faces potentially catastrophic consequences in this century or the next. We can do so in Bali and should do so now in Dáil Éireann and get cross-party support on this issue. Let us stop the guff we have heard here for the past nine or ten days, which has involved attacking the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy John Gormley, and the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Eamon Ryan, and trying to take them out when they are trying to put forward sensible policies.
Ireland must try to effectively improve industrial energy, move to new kinds of power generating capacity, try to come to grips with the transportation sector and persuade people to buy cars that use less petrol or use energy-efficient appliances. We all have a role to play. It is not just a matter for the Government and the Minister, it concerns the broader society and community. Whether it involves recycling or dealing with energy issues in one's home, that must be part of the strategy. Climate change is a cross-party issue for which everybody has responsibility, which I welcome.
If one looks at the details of it, one can see that climate change is increasingly seen as the biggest environmental challenge facing the world. While the problem springs from industrialisation and the transport revolution, developing countries are among the most vulnerable to climate change. They are the countries that will be most affected by flooding, drought and crop failures. There is a risk that in many of these countries, the millennium development goals will soon become a receding target.
What can be done? Can issues such as the UN clean development mechanism yield adequate results? What contribution can we expect from the European Commission's proposed global climate change alliance? What greater level of financial commitment is needed and what will be the timetable? How can we better integrate climate change into our development policies, which is a key issue. I must be honest and say that in the 1980s, I was more interested in economic and social issues, particularly during the downturn in the economy, when I worked in the north inner city. These were bread and butter issues concerning housing, poverty and unemployment. We have now moved on from those issues and must look at development issues, as well as climate change. It is very important to focus on those issues.
It is also important that we link this to local issues. In my constituency, the debate about the proposed 52-acre infill in Dublin Bay is an issue about which we must be very concerned. In my community of Clontarf, I support the campaign of Dublin Bay Watch to save Dublin Bay. I raised this issue with the Taoiseach in the talks on the formation of the Government. It is important to connect to local issues because if we start destroying beautiful habitats like Dublin Bay, there is the danger that the immediate area could be affected. I am talking about flooding in Clontarf. It is very important for me to mention these issues.
In respect of assisting areas, I welcome the fact that Dublin City Council is to install flood defences on the promenade. This will consist of a levee along the centre of the grassed area and building a sea wall opposite the shops at St. Anthony's Church in Clontarf. The old Clontarf baths are privately owned and the council proposes to put retractable gates in this area to maintain flood defences. These are sensible proposals in respect of this issue.
There is a link between local environmental issues and the international issue of climate change. Let us accept that climate change is a reality. The evidence is overwhelming and the scientific community is unanimous in believing that climate change is caused by human activities, chiefly the burning of fossil fuels which emit greenhouse gases. Glaciers are retreating, the Arctic is melting, sea levels are rising, deserts are expanding and species are disappearing. These are just a few dramatic results of our energy production and usage. If these results are to be kept within bearable limits, the rise in global average temperatures must be kept to 2° Celsius. According to the latest report of the IPCC, greenhouse gas emissions must peak and decline within the next ten to 15 years. This requires a major shift in our energy and transport policy. It is very important that we point out the importance of these policies. One of the sensible options proposed in this House is the formation of a special committee on climate change representing all parties in the Dáil. This is a positive development, as is the fact that it will be chaired by Deputy Seán Barrett because he will get on and do the job, refrain from having talks about talks, roll out sensible solutions and deal with the issues on a practical level.
It is all very well to come in here, say what one is against and have the wider debate about climate change. I will throw out a few sensible solutions. There are three fundamental measures a Government can take, although everyone bears responsibility. We should all push for an international agreement to keep the rise in global temperatures to 2° Celsius or less. We should examine enacting a climate change law that provides for an annual carbon budget and a 3% annual reduction in Irish greenhouse gas emissions. Another proposal, which is important for developing countries, is to support them in adapting to unavoidable change. I will put my suggestions to the Joint Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security, to which I have had the honour of being nominated. While discussing these matters we must face up to climate change. We must also address energy and the radical changes we must make in the next nine or ten years.
I suggest those in opposition criticising the Green Party listen to some of the sensible policies the party has. The Opposition should support the Green Party in government, give it a break and cut out guff, hot air, heckling and point scoring. The Opposition should listen to sensible solutions. The men and women on the street wish to implement green policies. Let us get on with the job.