Dublin City University welcomed President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, to the DCU St. Patrick’s campus today (Thursday 5 May) for a keynote address on climate change, marking the DCU Centre for Climate and Society inaugural conference.
President Higgins’s speech focused on the role of education, finance, and other sectors in Irish society in our transition to a sustainable way of life. In particular, he called on the State to reassert itself, and to play a leading role in this transition, building on the wide social support it received during the Covid pandemic.
“I see a role for the State that is one of leading in climate action, championing climate mitigation, resilience and adaptation. The Irish State must lead by example if it is to have any credibility, any realistic hope of bringing its citizens with it on the challenging journey to a net-zero carbon future.
“Government Departments and State Agencies must become exemplars in climate mitigation given the whole-of-Government approach needed to curb our carbon emissions, as well as in climate adaptation given the State’s pivotal role as owners of land and infrastructure which is likely to be impacted by climate change.”
President Higgins thanked and welcomed the efforts of all involved with the Centre – staff and students alike – for their willingness and determination to play their role in delivering the necessary research to inform action.
“The DCU Centre for Climate and Society has an opportunity to play a key role, working across civil society, policymakers, local authorities, communities, and educators, in fostering public engagement with the great existential issue of our era, climate change. Through the provision of research and advice that assists in crafting better policies, better communications, better educational resources, better strategies for tackling climate change, the Centre has a unique opportunity to help with the great task of bringing people together and building a consensus as to what needs to be done – a big responsibility to which I am sure it will rise.”
Established last year with philanthropic and advisory support from founding partner Deloitte, the Centre is Ireland’s first academic research centre to bring perspectives and analysis from the social sciences and humanities to bear on the climate crisis.
The work of the Centre reflects DCU’s own commitment to sustainability in its research, teaching, and operations. Speaking about the importance of this Centre for DCU, and welcoming President Higgins to the University, Professor Daire Keogh, DCU President, said:
“The creation of the DCU Centre for Climate and Society is a recognition that Climate Change is no longer a problem for the physical sciences alone. It is a policy problem, it is a communications problem, it is a media problem, an ethics problem, an education problem, a corporate problem. In fact, it is a challenge that every area of society will have to respond to. With that in mind, the centre’s research agenda will be critically important as we seek to be more effective in addressing key questions around Climate Change.”
The one-day conference also featured a range of speakers from business, the media, policy-making, and academia to discuss important issues, including how the media can respond to the climate challenges; Climate policy-making in a turbulent world; and what corporate leadership looks like.
Director of the Centre and Assistant Professor in DCU’s School of Communications, Dr David Robbins, said:
“It’s vital that we understand how various sections of society think and talk about climate change. Politics, policy, education, media, business – all these sectors have a part to play in tackling this crisis. We are delighted to have the support of President Higgins, and of Deloitte, at our inaugural conference and we hope that our discussions today will help inform stakeholders and prompt more urgent climate action in Ireland and around the world.”
Harry Goddard, CEO of Deloitte Ireland
“Climate action is about transformation, it’s the biggest change management project we have ever embarked on as a society, even post a global pandemic. Bringing together a broad mix of people from across sectors is one of the primary goals of the DCU Centre for Climate & Society, to develop the policies and frameworks we need to motivate sustained change. From a business perspective, we know our role in tackling the climate crisis is integral, and at Deloitte we are progressing our own global goal to becoming net-zero as well as supporting our clients to embed sustainability on the business agenda.”