'We have to change and cut the emissions faster' - Mary Robinson on climate change

The former President says the impacts of climate change are "becoming unbearable in the countries that are least responsible"

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Mary Robinson with Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia. Image: Irish Embassy Addis via Twitter

Mary Robinson has warned that people in Ireland and the rest of the industrialised world have to cut emissions faster.

The former Irish President is in Ethiopia to highlight the impact of climate change on the country.

As UN Special Envoy, Mrs Robinson is meeting with the country's government and visiting areas affected by the El Niño weather system.

Over the coming months, the weather is due to lead to drought and flash flooding in highly populated areas of the country.

Food shortages are also feared as a result.

The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) said: “Animal health is particularly at risk, and livestock experts have highlighted the crucial role of emergency on-the-ground health provisions such as vaccinations and treatments to prevent or mitigate the spread of disease in affected areas."

Mary Robinson says climate change has led to the UN intensifying its response to a worsening situation in Ethiopia.

"The Secretary General of the UN never created Special Envoys before for El Niño, because it was something people just had to cope with," she told Pat Kenny.

"Now, because of climate change, it has become so bad. And it really is bad - it is bad here in Ethiopia, where they do good climate work, where they cope well with climate and they're used to it.

"Yet they now have 10.3 million additional people who are malnourished and could suffer very badly before the end of this year," she explained.

She suggested there is a need for 'much more integration' between local governments and international agencies ahead of the next major El Niño event in the coming years.

"It brings home to us that we must cut emissions very fast," she said. "Ireland must become more of a leader in understanding importance of renewable energy.

"We have to change, and so must the rest of the industrialised world. The impacts are becoming unbearable in the countries that are least responsible," she added.