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President Higgins to call for radical economic approach to fight climate change

Policies of the past have brought humanity to an ‘ecological precipice’, Michael D Higgins will say in a keynote address.

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Michael D Higgins will deliver the keynote address at the Engineers Ireland annual conference (Peter Byrne/PA)

Michael D Higgins will deliver the keynote address at the Engineers Ireland annual conference (Peter Byrne/PA)

Michael D Higgins will deliver the keynote address at the Engineers Ireland annual conference (Peter Byrne/PA)

President Michael D Higgins is to call for a new approach to economics that incorporates the “radicalism” of climate activism.

Mr Higgins is due to make the comments as part of his keynote address to a conference on climate change on Wednesday.

Part of the worldwide response to climate change should be framed around the principles of “redistribution, social consumption and social investment”, the president will say in his speech.

Mr Higgins will deliver the keynote address at the Engineers Ireland annual conference.

He will say: “We cannot continue with the mere placing of a green lens on economic policies… policies that have failed manifestly and are continuing to cause damaging ecological impacts.”

Mr Higgins will call for a new approach to economics, one that is based on a connection between ecology, economics and society.

One that “combines the radicalism that is in the consciousness of climate activism, with the consciousness of egalitarianism and the programmes of inclusion activists”.

It should be “framed around the three implicit goals of welfare states: redistribution, social consumption and social investment and characterised by gender equality, income redistribution, a reconfigured social consumption,” he will say.

Mr Higgins believes a transfer of resources and technology from rich countries to the developing world will assist in dealing with the challenges of climate change and enable them to follow a path of sustainable development.

The central theme of the president’s address will be “the fruits of science and technology for universal social benefit”.

He calls climate change “the greatest contemporary challenge facing us as inhabitants of this planet in peril”.

The president believes that the economic policies of recent decades that neglected environmental impacts have brought humanity to “an ecological precipice”.

Wednesday’s conference, entitled Engineering Climate Action: Solutions To Combat Climate Change In Ireland will provide a forum for engineers, business leaders and policymakers to discuss climate action.

It will also focus on the leadership role engineers have in addressing climate breakdown and in helping communities to transition to a more resilient society.

The conference will take place as a virtual event, having been rescheduled from April 2020, in light of Covid-19 restrictions.

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