Trócaire Blog


June 29, 2015

Have you ever broken a promise?

Don’t let the Irish Government continue to break its promise to the world’s poorest people on your behalf.

In 2000, Ireland made a promise to the world’s poorest people to spend 0.7% of national income on overseas aid. We promised that the target would be met by 2007, but this was broken. The deadline was then deferred to 2012 and finally to 2015.

However, in early 2014 the Government announced that Ireland would, once again, break its promise. Today the Irish Government spends less than 0.4% of national income on overseas aid, which is around 40 cent in every €100.  

2015 is a landmark year in the global fight against poverty, with a number of upcoming international summits aimed at creating a more just and sustainable world. From the 13th-16th July, UN member states, including Ireland, will meet in Addis Ababa to agree a global agreement on how to finance sustainable development. For more information on why this conference matters, read our June 2015 Briefing Paper on the Addis Accord.

How you can take action

In advance of the conference in Addis Ababa, it is vital that we put pressure on the Irish Government to set out a credible plan for meeting our aid promise. Take action today and demand concrete steps towards meeting Ireland’s 0.7% commitment by 2020

Use the tweets below to send a message to Charlie Flanagan TD, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade:

Don’t break Ireland’s promise to the worlds’ poorest on my behalf @CharlieFlanagan – please #RecommitToAid with a plan for 0.7% by 2020

Without a clear plan on 0.7% Ireland will have little credibility in Addis Ababa. @CharlieFlanagan – please #RecommitToAid


If Twitter is not your thing, don’t worry – you can still take action by contacting Minister Flanagan’s constituency office directly to voice your concerns.

Here are his contact details:

Charlie Flanagan TD, Constituency Office, Lismard Court, Portlaoise, Co. Laois
Telephone: 057-8620232


Take action in Northern Ireland

For supporters in Northern Ireland, earlier this year the UK Government enshrined their promise of 0.7% in law. We encourage you to tweet the UK Chancellor, George Osborne MP, urging him to attend the important finance conference in Addis Ababa, and to push for a global commitment of 0.7%.

Please attend #FFD3 @George_Osborne and help secure global 0.7% aid commitment by 2020


Keep up-to-date with our campaigns

Sign up here kept up to date with all the news from Trócaire’s campaigns team, including opportunities to take action for climate justice.

Have you ever broken a promise?

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June 25, 2015

Major conference calls for immediate action on climate change

This week Trócaire, Maynooth University and St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, co-hosted a major two-day conference titled: ‘Meeting the Challenge of Climate Justice: From Evidence to Action’.

2015 is a critical year in addressing the impending climate emergency and charting a path towards a more sustainable future, culminating in the UN Summit (COP21) in Paris in December. 

Climate change, and the injustice it represents, is one of the most serious challenges facing humanity. But while the evidence on human-made climate change is overwhelming, action to stem the rise in global temperatures lags far behind. It is hoped that a strong, binding, international agreement for action will be agreed at the UN Summit in December. But there is no room for complacency that this will be achieved. And strong campaigning is required in advance to ensure that politicians act for the global good. 

On that theme, this conference addressed a diverse audience including campaigners, political representatives, business leaders and grass-roots activists, and was livestreamed to an international audience. Speakers included climate justice luminaries and activists such as Mary Robinson and Bill McKibben of, as well as Professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, the vice-president of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Other leading voices at the conference were John Sweeney Emeritus Professor of Geography at Maynooth University, Fr Sean McDonagh, a Columban missionary and ecological activist, and Bishop Theotonius Gomes, Auxiliary Bishop of Dhaka, Bangladesh – a regular attendee and contributor at international climate negotiations.

Mary Robinson stated clearly that two-thirds of known fossil-fuel reserves must be left in the ground if global warming is to be kept at less than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. She spoke of “the moral imperative to act” and the need for “global co-operation on an unprecedented scale – a whole new era of solidarity based on an understanding of our interconnectedness,” adding that climate change “confronts us with the reality of our interdependence”.

mary robinson, amy colgan, Dr David Mkwambisi

Photos: Mary Robinson delivering keynote speech, young climate campaigner Amy Colgan, Dr David Mkwambisi, Lilongwe University of Agriculture & Natural Resources

Advocating strongly for divestment strategies at an individual and institutional level, leading climate change campaigner Bill McKibben told the conference that the fossil fuel industry is threatening the safety and security of the planet. He described them as “the most irresponsible industry we have ever seen on the planet”. 

McKibben warned of the “planetary dislocation” that is taking place and said that the only way to halt a global temperature rise of more than two degrees Celsius is to “break the power of the fossil fuel industry”. 

“They are no longer normal companies,” he said. “We must turn them into the pariahs they must become. If we follow the business plan of the fossil fuel industry, we will go far beyond a two degree temperature rise. If they do what they have said they will do, the planet will break.”

Professor Jean Pascal van Ypersele, Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), warned that levels of carbon in the atmosphere today are unprecedented. The Professor outlined how for 800,000 years the levels of carbon in the atmosphere varied between 180-280 parts per million (ppm) but now stands at 400ppm. 

Professor van Ypersele described the “hidden message” of the IPCC reports as being the complete lack of political will to tackle an issue that presents a threat to all forms of life on earth. Limiting global temperature rises to two degrees Celsius would be an enormous challenge given that two-thirds of the level of carbon compatible with restricting temperature rises to two degrees has already been emitted, he said.

Professor John Sweeney presented the Irish climate change context. He pointed out that last year was the warmest in Ireland since 1880 and that average temperatures had increased by 0.5 degrees since 1981.

At these current rates, temperatures will continue to rise by between one degree and 1.5 degrees over the next 30 years, he said. This would result in much more rainfall in the west of Ireland and a lot less in the east between 2021 and 2050 - with more frequent flooding and water shortages during summer. 

Referring to the 2013 fodder crisis – he said this may be indicative of what is to come. Similarly, we are likely to have more extreme storm events as in the winter of 2013/14.

“The cost of doing nothing is huge for Ireland,” he said.

The Pope’s Encyclical on ecology, which was released just last week (18 June) was hailed by all as a landmark call to action on climate change. 

"Laudato Si’ is an astonishing document - there is no longer any excuse for people not knowing about this issue” Bill McKibben said.

Many contributors also spoke of the lack of political will in Ireland – and a refrain from politicians that they are not hearing climate change concerns from constituents ‘on the doorsteps’. It is up to us, individually and collectively, to ensure that the climate message is now heard loud and clear.



FIND OUT MORE: Learn more about the Climate Justice conference at

JOIN: Trócaire’s Climate Justice campaign, take action for a strong climate law for Ireland and help raise awareness of climate change with the Irish public and our political representatives

WATCH: Drop in the Ocean?: Ireland and Climate Change 

June 18, 2015

Key messages from the Pope’s Encyclical on ecology

Dr Lorna Gold, Trócaire's Head of Policy and Advocacy, writes about Pope Francis's Encyclical on ecology, Laudato Si’ – released today

You can't read Pope Francis’s Encyclical on ecology, Laudato Si’, and not be deeply moved. 

This is perhaps the most far reaching church document in a generation. It is certainly the most anticipated. It is both deeply political in its content and in its timing, as well as deeply contemplative and deeply practical.

Pope Francis presents a heart-breaking analysis of the various dramatic environmental situations facing the world today – from the terror of climate change, to biodiversity loss in every habitat, to the growing inequality in relation to finite resources, against a backdrop of overconsumption and waste - which results in many people being regarded as disposable.

He points to the deep ethical and spiritual roots of the current 'socio-environmental' crisis: a uni-dimensional paradigm founded on a blind faith in market-based technocratic solutions to resolve the world's problems. He warns of the folly of seeking technical fixes to complex problems, which involve matters of human consciousness. 

In fact, we know very little about the interconnectedness of life and often choose to ignore it. Overcoming this blindness requires an integral ecology, one that doesn’t try to solve problems in a piecemeal fashion, but sees the deep interconnections between the different crises and seeks to resolve them in a holistic, interdisciplinary way.

The Pope dispels the myths around the Judeo-Christian tradition as being about domination of nature. He throws this out as a false interpretation and goes to great lengths to dispel it. 

A phrase that appears several times in the document is "everything is interconnected." In terms of what we can do, the Encyclical points to some very practical pathways for action. In this respect, it really gives hope. 

First, we each need to believe that simple actions make a big difference. We need to start by re-evaluating our own understanding of our place in the environment. He reminds us that we are made from the elements of the natural world. We do not sit apart from it. We are earth and we need to rediscover that deep connection. Reconnecting with our place in nature and rediscovering that "affectionate" relationship is the starting point of an "ecological conversion." 
The Pope places a special focus on families and the role of parents in this regard. He makes a very simple call for all families to begin practicing grace before meals again, as a sign of our appreciation of nature and our dependence on God's creation. It is a custom that has perhaps gone out of fashion. He also asks us to consider Sunday as a day of rest, a restorative day for nature and ourselves. 

In our local communities, he affirms that integral ecology is central to the Christian message. He calls for an ecological spirituality and asks us all to consider how we consume. He says that each act of consumption is a "moral and political act". He reminds us of the power of boycott campaigns and the need to create a counterculture based on 'less is more' and a new mindful, contemplation of nature. It calls for a new educational and spiritual awareness to ensure this happens. 

It calls on NGOs, in particular, to continue to work for political change and to organise people to build political pressure for change.

At a political level, the Encyclical does not pull any punches. It highlights the way in which international finance has control over politics at a national and international level and how this is limiting and distorting our capacity to address common challenges. This is a failure of governance, which requires a new way of governing the “global commons". 

We need stronger, effective international agreements to combat environmental degradation, including climate change. In this respect, the need for a fair and binding agreement on climate change at the UN Summit this December is essential to change course. 

Importantly, the Encyclical stresses that poor countries should not have to bear the burden of this transition. They need to be supported both in terms of finance and technology transfers to make the transition to renewable energy.

At a national level, the Pope also has a timely message for Ireland, as we finalise our own climate legislation in the next few weeks. He points to the need for robust laws to protect the environment and the need to ensure that they are enacted. 

These laws should not be subject to the whim of political cycles, but take the long view, thinking of the impact of their enforcement on future generations. In this regard, the need for Ireland's climate legislation to be as robust as possible and to incorporate the principle of climate justice is very clear.

On the economic front, the Encyclical points to the need for macroeconomic strategies and business plans in particular to integrate environmental costs. It points to the fact that the economy currently does not account properly for the use of natural capital, utilising it as if it were an infinite resource. We know now that it is not and that true natural capital accounting is essential. 

Similarly, all businesses need to implement Environmental Impact Assessments, which take the full environmental impacts into account.

The Encyclical starts and ends with a very compelling but simple message: we need to look at nature and each other with new eyes. Before thinking about how we can use nature, we need to recover our capacity to contemplate it, and give praise to God for its and our existence.

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June 18, 2015

Pope's Encyclical is ‘a wake-up call to a world sleep-walking into disaster’

Today Trócaire welcomed Pope Francis’s Encyclical on ecology, saying the Pope’s unprecedented intervention must have a positive impact on the vital climate negotiations this year. 
Pope Francis today published Laudato Si’, in which he calls for action at local, national and international levels to combat ecological destruction, and in particular the future threat and current reality of climate change. 

The Encyclical, which is addressed to "every person who lives on this planet," clearly aligns the Catholic Church with the growing movement calling for urgent changes to lifestyles and energy consumption in order to safeguard the future of the planet.
Speaking in the strongest terms yet in defence of the environment as "our common home," Pope Francis warns of the unprecedented destruction of ecosystems as a result of human activity, clearly outlining the threats to future generations as a result of our actions. 

Calling for an “integral ecology,” Pope Francis underscores the human roots of the current  ecological crisis in social, political and economic structures. He points to the need for a radical shift in direction in political and economic priorities in order to meet the needs of the poorest, while also warning that our current lifestyles and consumption patterns are unsustainable.
Trócaire Executive Director Éamonn Meehan said that the Encyclical should mark a turning point in the global response to environmental justice, and particularly climate change:
“This Encyclical is one of the most significant Church documents in a generation.  It is a powerful wake-up call to a world sleep-walking into disaster. Pope Francis has clearly aligned the Catholic Church with calls for urgent political action to reduce carbon emissions and set the world on the path to a sustainable future.
“Trócaire is dealing with the consequences of climate change on a daily basis. Drought, flooding, storms and forced migration are all on the rise. Although we are insulated from the worst impacts in Ireland, we must not forget that hundreds of millions of people around the world are struggling to survive in great part due to the changing climate.
“In less than six months time, world leaders will meet in Paris at the UN Climate Summit. Pope Francis has added the voice of the global Catholic Church to the calls for agreement on a legally-binding framework to decarbonise our societies as a matter of urgency.
“The science on climate change is already clear. Pope Francis has now clearly outlined the moral and spiritual arguments for taking action. This Encyclical tackles the lethargy that is felt by many people when faced with this most pressing of crises. Pope Francis makes clear that everything is inter-connected. We are custodians of this planet and we have a clear moral obligation to ensure that everyone has access to its abundant resources, and that we hand it to future generations in a condition that is compatible with life.”

On Monday and Tuesday of next week (22-23 June), Trócaire is co-hosting a major international conference on Climate Justice at Maynooth University. Speakers include Mary Robinson, Bill McKibben, co-founder of and Professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Places at the conference are now fully booked, however, the event will be livestreamed here:


Learn more about Trócaire's ongoing Climate Justice campaign

Additional Notes:

1. An Encyclical is a letter issued by the Pope to all Catholic Bishops around the world. Laudato Si' is Pope Francis’s second Encyclical. In June 2013 he released Lumen Fidei, which addressed issues such as faith and charity.

2. The environment has been a key theme of Francis’s papacy. In his inaugural address (March 2013), Pope Francis urged people to be “protectors of one another and of the environment,” reminding people that “everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it.”

3. In Evangelii Gaudium, an apostolic exhortation issued in November 2013, Pope Francis warned against an economic system which promotes exclusion, inequality and violence. He warned, “in this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increase profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenceless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.” An apostolic exhortation is a letter to all Bishops, clergy and lay faithful.

4. In 2014/15, Trócaire spent almost €58 million helping to improve the lives of an estimated 2.4 million people directly in some of the poorest places in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia.

5. Climate change is a priority issue for Trócaire. Our Livelihoods programmes offer support to people struggling to grow food in the face of erratic weather patterns, while our Humanitarian programmes respond to situations of crisis resulting from drought, storms and floods. In 2014/15, €13.3 million was spent supporting livelihoods programmes in 14 countries. These programmes are estimated to have benefitted 794,898 people directly. In 2014/15 Trócaire spent €26.8 million supporting humanitarian and disaster risk reduction work in 16 countries. This work is estimated to have supported over 1.1 million people directly.

6. In 2014, the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference issued ‘The Cry of the Earth,’ a pastoral reflection on climate change which noted: “in addressing the challenge of climate change, everyone has a part to play. Every action taken in favour of a just and more sustainable environment, no matter how small, has an intrinsic value. Action at a global level, as well as every individual action which contributes to integral human development and global solidarity, helps to construct a more sustainable environment and, therefore, a better world.”

7. Trócaire issued ‘Glas’, a pastoral resource, to accompany ‘The Cry of the Earth’. This resource has been distributed to parishes throughout Ireland in order to give communities ideas of practical steps that can be taken to promote a healthy environment. Trócaire works with parishes, schools and communities across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to promote responses to climate change.

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June 15, 2015

Pope Francis encyclical to call for action on climate change

On Thursday (June 18th) Pope Francis will release Laudato Si, his highly anticipated Encyclical on climate change. The document will mark the Pope’s most significant intervention in the climate debate to date, clearly aligning the global Catholic Church with calls for greater political action to save the planet from climate chaos. 

Pope Francis has already clearly demonstrated his commitment to environmental care through many of his public statements. Last year, he warned, “if we destroy it [nature], it will destroy us”. However, this week’s encyclical will be his most unprecedented intervention on the topic of protecting our planet. 

Laudato Si is expected to make the moral argument for taking political action to reduce carbon emissions. It is also expected to make the link between environmental destruction, poverty and inequality by criticising an economic system that benefits a small elite while at the same time causing environmental destruction that harms us all. It is expected that the Pope will deeply question how we run our economy and our lifestyles and how we value our relationship with nature. 

Tigray, Ethiopia, climate change

Dry landscape in Tigray, Ethiopia, where once-reliable rains have become infrequent and unpredictable. Photo: Jeannie O'Brien, 2014


The timing of this encyclical is extremely important. There are a number of international processes taking place this year relating to climate change, culminating in the vital UN Climate Summit in Paris this December. 

Pope Francis’s intervention at such a crucial time will clearly place the Catholic Church on the side of those demanding political action. Laudato Si will be distributed to Bishops around the world, who will then filter it down through the parish network. 

At Trócaire, we have made climate change our number one priority. Increasingly our programmes are focused on tackling the impacts of climate change – be it drought in southern Africa, storms in Latin America or flooding in Asia. 

Climate change is having a severe impact on the ability of already struggling communities to survive and grow food, and the experts warn that this will only intensify over the coming years unless action is taken immediately to reduce the amount of carbon in our atmosphere. 

For example, it is predicted that yields from ‘rain-fed’ agriculture will drop by 50 per cent by 2020 to due drought.

The great injustice of this is that it is the people who are suffering most who have done the least to contribute to climate change. Developing countries are much more dependent on subsistence agriculture and have far fewer resources with which to cope with the changing climate.

Pope Francis’s encyclical will offer timely guidance on how we should tackle the most pressing issue of our time. 

Access Trócaire's schools, parish and policy resources on climate change.

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