Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan said the Irish farming community will be the “heroes” of the transition to greener climate policies.
Speaking on The Anton Savage Show, Mr Ryan said a recent study by the Environmental Protection Agency shows the majority of people know climate change is a problem.
“About 85% said, ‘Yep, climate change is real, I want to be a part of the solution, I see this as important to protect my children's future’,” he said.
“There was no difference between rural and urban. There was no difference between rich and poor. There was no difference between young and old. It's an existential understanding.
“We’re not stupid.”
'Farmers are smart'
The Green Party leader said people shouldn’t start with the premise that the farming community is entirely against green policies such as reducing the cattle herd.
“Farmers are smart,” he said. “They can see [climate change] happening - they can see it in the weather systems hitting here.
“This summer you can’t bring your hay in in July because it's the wettest July ever and also warmest ever.
“The farmers are going to be the heroes of this transition and central to the solution because they have the skills in knowing how to manage land so we do produce high quality food which is sustainable.”
While Ireland is a small country, Mr Ryan said it can make a big difference with stronger climate policies.
“Every place matters. Every person matters. We are the front line,” he said.
Following the Green Party’s think-in, Mr Ryan said the event was like being in the “dressing room” with teammates ahead of a football game.
He also said the party is not thinking about general elections in the near future.
“If it’s possible, [The election will be in] March 2025,” he said. “Because we have a stable Government and we have, in my mind, an effective Government.
“I don’t think we’d serve the Irish people if we spend the next 18 months thinking about an election.”
He added polls in the middle of a term “would be slightly different to when it actually comes to elections”.
“By any measure if you'd look in terms of who was actually delivered on what they promised to do, I think we're right up there as one of the most effective coalition partners,” he said.
“Smaller parties would be described as the mudguard, but we’re more like the front wheel.”
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