It is our generation's 'last chance' to save the planet
PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins called for an end to denying the existence of climate change.
The President said this was the last generation which had the chance to save the planet from self-destruction.
A series of international conferences in 2015 would decide in large measure whether this huge challenge can be met.
Mr Higgins quoted the American environmental campaigner, Terri Swearinger, who has pointed to the folly of so much dependence on fossil fuels and the assumptions of limitless economic growth.
"We are living on this planet as if we have another one to go to," the President quoted the campaigner as saying.
"Ours may be the final generation with the opportunity to effectively respond to the urgent, uncontested effects of climate change," he added.
President Higgins said that developed and rich countries had a big obligation to come to the aid of smaller and poorer nations already feeling the damage done by climate change. He said that developed nations had contributed more than their fair share to the damage done.
President Higgins was addressing a climate change policy conference in Paris. He was specifically invited to make his landmark speech by French President, Francois Hollande, as France tries to take a lead role on the issue this year.
The French President had invited a large group of religious and civic leaders to discuss ideas for action on climate change. The gathering is part of a series of preparations for a conference in Paris next November, which will seek to frame a new international accord on addressing the issue.
Other keynote speakers include the former United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, and Prince Albert of Monaco.
Mr Higgins told the conference that the challenges ahead are daunting as they called for an end to fundamental errors of thinking in our relationship with the planet.
He stressed the need to confront individualism and insatiable consumption.
On the actions needed to tackle climate change, the President cited candour about the obstacles in its path, adding it will take courage to swim against the tide.