Just World. the Blog.

February 16, 2015

Irish Climate Bill: You asked, they listened!

Climate Change Bill Lobby Event Buswells Hotel

Caption: clockwise from top left Paul Connaughton, Galway East TD, Fine Gael; Eoghan Murphy, Dublin South East TD,  Fine Gael; Mick Wallace, Wexford TD, Independent; and Mary Lou McDonald, Dublin Central TD, Sinn Fein, were among the many TDs who attended the Climate Bill lobbying session in Buswell's Hotel, Dublin on Tuesday 10 February. Photos: Alan Whelan/Trócaire.

 
On Tuesday 10th February, Trócaire, together with Stop Climate Chaos organised a hugely successful mass lobby event on Ireland's Climate Bill. This event was organised to pressure our politicians to pass a much stronger bill than currently exists.
 
Thanks to people from all over the country who contacted their politicians, over 90 TDs attended the event throughout the day, which was an amazing turnout. TDs from both the Government and opposition came thanks to the numerous emails, tweets and phone calls they received from constituents like you!
 
The debate in the Dail last week showed a cross-party awareness of the need to strengthen the bill;  TDs have voiced their concerns about  its weakness in its current form, repeating the need for emission targets, a fully independent advisory council, the need to define what 'low carbon' means and a stronger commitment to climate justice for developing countries.
 

What TDs have been saying about the Climate Bill

 
'I hope the Minister will approach the legislation in the proper spirit as we approach Committee Stage because if we look back to the report of the Oireachtas committee we see that most of what it recommended was not reflected in the legislation. One does not have to agree with everything a Committee says, but if one does not listen to it, that begs the question of why we have such committees and why they do the work they do. It is important as we amend the Bill on Committee Stage that we try to find a better balance between what the Oireachtas Committee recommended and what the Government wants, because that is the whole purpose of the system we have... 
 
There is no definition of low carbon in the Bill, which is incredible when one thinks about it. We have a definition of low carbon and the Bill is about low carbon so the Bill should contain a definition...
 
There is also no concept of climate justice in the Bill, which is remarkable, as one cannot talk about the subject without talking about climate justice. It is an important concept but it is a difficult thing to achieve. However, we will not get anywhere near achieving it if we are not even talking about it in primary legislation such as this.'
 
- Eoghan Murphy, Dublin South East TD, Fine Gael
 
 
'In the programme there was a commitment to "publish a Climate Change Bill which will provide certainty surrounding government policy and provide a clear pathway for emissions reductions", yet this Bill does not provide any certainty to me or to the people I met who visited this House to give an excellent briefing. They were from the 28 organisations that combined to form Stop Climate Chaos and were in Buswells Hotel last Tuesday. The Bill does not answer our concerns and it does not provide a clear pathway to the sectors that need to start making changes to how they plan and operate.'
 
- Tommy Broughan, Dublin North East TD, Independent
 
 
'Climate change is a serious threat to this island nation across a broad remit of areas from agriculture to infrastructure, including the threat of massive coastal erosion. The Bill does not confront the scale of that threat. The input from the exhaustive hearings of the Joint Committee on the Environment, Community and Local Government and its subsequent consensus recommendations have effectively been ignored by the Government, contrary to what the Minister has said.
 
...the failure to include specific 2050 targets will give rise to sectoral interests potentially hijacking the process and depriving the Bill of its long-term impact in shaping policy formation. In other words, as a result, the Bill is effectively toothless.'
 
- Barry Cowen, Laois-Offaly TD, Fianna Fail
 
 
'With the timelines as set out currently we will get a plan but it will be too long in the making. Another issue we must address is the view that this country is so small that it does not really matter what we do in the wider world. The United States of America and China make deals with each other and the belief is that if they are doing something then it will solve matters for the rest of us.
 
That is hardly a positive way to view this problem. We have to do our bit. I agree with the need for climate justice. As a developed country we must do more for those countries in much more dire situations.'
 
- Paul Connaughton, Galway East TD, Fine Gael
 
 
'...the UK, Scotland, France, Denmark, Sweden and Finland have one thing in common. They have adopted legislation which is much stronger than that with which we are presented. They also have targets set in domestic law. Unfortunately and critically, this legislation does not contain these targets. For legislation which has the support of politicians across the spectrum, it is amazing that narrow sectoral concerns seem to have had more impact in the framing of this legislation. I hope this can be changed on Committee Stage. It is an indictment of Parliament that, over the past ten years, we have failed to respond to one of the biggest challenges of our times.'
 
- Catherine Murphy, Kildare North TD, Independent
 
 
'The Bill is not adequate in terms of following on from the action plan on climate change which ended in 2012. It had specific targets based on the Kyoto Protocol. There is no excuse, particularly in light of the fact that the Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht, with which I and other Members are involved, had all-party support when setting out its proposals in a report in 2013.
 
The committee report refers to the concept of climate justice. We must recognise that there is not a level playing field. Trócaire and others have stressed the inequalities that exist on a global scale and the fact that people in developing countries suffer greatly from the impact of dramatic climate change. A women from the Philippines was here yesterday. It is a country made up of islands and we have seen television images of what those people have suffered as a result of climate change. One could not be left unmoved by what is happening to people in the Pacific Ocean, particularly those who live on small islands. We have an obligation to those people, as we are producing far more greenhouse gases per head of population than they are. Over recent decades we have seen the consequences of drought and disaster caused by extreme events in the Philippines and other countries. The impact of such events is greatly exacerbated by the fact that these underdeveloped countries do not have the infrastructure to cope with such disasters. Poorer-quality housing and physical infrastructure means that the consequences of hurricanes and typhoons, for example, are far greater than they are in developed countries. The emergency and relief services are not as well able to cope with those consequences and the impact on local people.
 
What we have been presented with instead is an expanded heads of a Bill which puts everything on the very long finger and commits this State to do little. There will possibly be penguins washed up in Dollymount before we have this process completed.'
 
- Brian Stanley, Laois-Offaly TD, Sinn Fein
 
 
'Our carbon reduction targets should be explicitly stated in time stages to enable us and the world to calculate whether we are moving in the right direction. Sometimes we can get legislation wrong, but the consequences in those cases are not too severe or they can be undone. However, if we get this wrong - the legislation or the enforcement - there will be no second chance.'
 
- Michael Colreavy, Sligo North TD, Sinn Fein
 
 
'I attended a briefing that was held by Stop Climate Chaos yesterday. I suggest the Minister would have attended it last year before he was put in the position he is in now, or even before he was elected. The organisers of the briefing, who have been very involved in some of the most serious examination of climate change for the future, are saying clearly that this Bill is very disappointing. A fourth class group of ten year olds from Griffeen Valley Educate Together national school who attended yesterday's event asked why no targets have been set in this legislation. They could not understand why no targets have been set. When people of that age are asking such questions, it shows they have significant concerns about their future. The Minister has an obligation to provide a specific reason. I do not think the explanation he provided in his introductory remarks was good enough. We should set targets for our greenhouse emissions.'
 
- Joan Collins, Dublin South Central TD, United Left
 
 
'Here we are discussing a Climate Bill that does not promise any plan until 2017 and no progress report until 2023, fails to set an emission reduction target for 2050, does not commit to a definition of "low-carbon economy", refuses to make the expert advisory council fully independent and fails to recognise the importance of the principle of climate justice.
 
In Ireland, we emit more greenhouse gases than the poorest 400 million people living on the planet put together. As noted by Stop Climate Chaos, Ireland is emitting 17 tonnes of greenhouse gases per person per year. This makes us the second worst polluter in the EU, where the average is 11 tonnes. We need to recognise that we are not innocent, that we have benefited at the expense of others and that it is time to do our part to redress the balance.'
 
- Mick Wallace, Wexford TD, Independent
 
 
'...the question must be asked as to why no explicit mitigation targets are contained in the Bill. The Department's position appears to be that setting targets within the Bill could at some stage interfere with the legally binding targets set by EU legislation. Perhaps the Minister will indicate why he believes this to be the case.
 
Given that this is the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill, I am obliged to ask whether it would not be reasonable to include a definition within its provisions of what constitutes "low carbon"? The inclusion of such a definition could provide extra clarity and contextualisation to the provisions and aims of this legislation. A further concern, which has just been outlined by the previous speaker and which has been brought to my attention on numerous occasions, relates to why the Bill does not explicitly state that the expert advisory council will be fully independent.
 
A national and transition mitigation plan is required to be developed by the Minister "no later than 24 months after the passing of this Act". In light of the importance of taking action to tackle climate change, should the development of this plan not take place in a more appropriate timeframe? I raise this issue because there are EU targets which we are obliged to meet by 2020 but under this provision, the national mitigation plan may not actually be in place until 2017. I do not believe this provides the State with sufficient time in which to take action.'
 
- Alan Farrell, Dublin North TD, Fine Gael
 
 
'This Bill is really quite pathetically weak in dealing with the most serious of crises, the climate crisis, and all the dangers it poses nationally and globally.
 
As has been stated, Ireland has one of the highest per capita emissions rates in Europe. It is ranked fourth highest. The potential cost to Ireland of runaway climate change is more severe than for most countries in Europe. The Joint Research Centre's recent report on climate impacts in Europe details the enormous costs already incurred in Ireland owing to events such as flooding. Some €750 million has been paid out by insurers since 2000. This indicates, based on the current trajectory, that the costs, which are really quite astronomical right across Europe, are set to increase massively. The cost of addressing sea flooding in Britain and Ireland is predicted to increase from €996 million to €3 billion over the next few years. Already, the direct economic cost of the damage from flooding across Europe is €5 billion. It is expected to be €11 billion in future years. The report states Ireland and Britain will be the worst affected, obviously because they are islands on the west of Europe and have particular climatic conditions.'
 
- Richard Boyd Barrett,  Dun Laoghaire TD, People Before Profit Alliance
 

 

'I wish to be positively encouraging in bringing this Bill forward. I also wish to make it more robust. It is a little limp at present due to the lack of definitions, targets and in respect of climate justice. It ought to be strengthened and made more robust in those three areas. We should not be afraid. Otherwise, the Minister is introducing a limp Bill that does nothing.'

- Peter Matthews, Dublin South TD, Independent

February 03, 2015

Feeling the Heat: Poetry competition 2015 launch

by Trish Groves, Campaigns Officer
 
Trócaire and Poetry Ireland are proud to launch our fourth joint poetry competition. This year’s theme is ‘Feeling the Heat’.
 
Extreme weather events are having a devastating effect on people in the developing world: destroying families, homes and livelihoods. The people who contribute least to climate change are those most ‘feeling the heat’ from its effects. 
 
Trócaire’s Climate Justice campaign seeks to address this inequality and support those who are experiencing the effects of climate change now. 
 
Entries are invited from both published and emerging poets, in English and Irish, with special categories for younger entrants and a Spoken Word category for performance poetry. Poets can submit up to THREE poems each, and entry is free.
 
Curtear fáilte roimh iontrálacha le haghaidh an tríú comórtas bliantúil filíochta Trócaire Éigse Éireann ar an téama 'Feeling The Heat'.
 
trocaire poetry ireland competition winner 2014
2014's competition winners at the awards ceremony in the National Library of Ireland
 
HOW TO ENTER
 
Download an application form, or enter the competition directly on Poetry Ireland’s website.
 
CLOSING DATE
 
The closing date is Friday 13 March, and winners will be notified by Friday 7 May 2015. Entries will be judged by poets Mary Shine ThompsonTheo Dorgan, and Trish Groves from Trócaire.
 
PRIZES
 
Prizes for adults include choices such as a stay at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, a year's subscription to Poetry Ireland Review, or professional feedback on your poetry through Poetry Ireland's Critical Assessment Service. Younger entrants can win a Kindle or book tokens, and a visit to your school by a writer.
 
MORE THAN JUST A COMPETITION
 
The winning poems are also published in booklet form, and distributed to arts festivals and community events, and through schools and poetry readings. Winners and runners up are invited to read at our lunchtime awards ceremony at the National Library of Ireland in Dublin, and many past winners have gone on to read at events around Ireland, including Culture Night, All Ireland Poetry Day and the Mountains to Sea Book Festival in Dun Laoghaire. 
 
Read the winning entries from 2013 and 2014:
 
 
This competition is a genuine opportunity for new and emerging poets to boost their profile and reach new audiences, while helping to raise awareness about climate justice.
 
Visit Trócaire’s Climate Justice web page for lots of practical suggestions and inspiration for your poetry competition entry.
 
Want to know more about the research behind the theme of ‘Feeling the Heat’? Read our report Feeling the Heat: How climate change is driving extreme weather in the developing world
 
For updates about the competition, please visit the Trócaire Facebook page or Poetry Ireland's Facebook page or follow us on Twitter @trocaire and @PoetryIreland.
 
January 29, 2015

Make our weak Climate Bill stronger!

 
Trócaire has welcomed the publication of the long-awaited Climate Action Bill.
 
Unfortunately this Bill, as it currently stands, does little to address Ireland’s responsibilities towards lowering our carbon emissions and working towards climate justice.
 
Time is limited!  We only have a few short weeks before this Bill, named the ‘Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill’ becomes law which is why we need your urgent help.  We cannot let Ireland continue to shirk its responsibilities around climate change.  
 
We need you to tweet and meet your local TD.  They are the people who are ultimately responsible for strengthening this Bill.  
 
The next few weeks are critical to getting this Bill strengthened.  Watch our video to find out how you can help…
 

 

Meet your TD in Dublin on 10th February

Meet your TD at the Stop Climate Chaos lobby event in Buswells Hotel, Dublin 2, on 10th February 2015.  
 
Find out how to invite your TD to the event in Buswells Hotel by emailing or phoning Trócaire Campaign officer, Orla Quinn, at orla.quinn@trocaire.org or 01 5053229.  Orla will provide all the necessary information you need in advance of the meeting. Orla and other Stop Climate Chaos members will be at the lobby event to help and support you on the day. 
 
You can use this sample letter to to write a letter or email your TD’s and invite them to the lobby event in Buswells hotel.
 
If you can’t join us on February 10th, you can still lobby your TD in your local constituency, by organising a meeting with with your TD to discuss the issues. Email or phone Trócaire Campaign officer, Orla Quinn, at orla.quinn@trocaire.org or 01 5053229 for advice on organising and conducting this meeting.
 
 
You can also check out our Activist Toolkit for further guidance on lobbying your TD.
 

Tweet Minister Alan Kelly TD and your local TD

Another powerful way to influence Minister Alan Kelly and your local TD is through twitter. Find your local TD’s twitter handle at whoismytd.com
 
Here are four suggested tweets you can copy and paste.  Remember to put your TD's twitter handle in where it reads <your local TD>.
 
@alankellylabour Please ensure #climatebill includes definition of low carbon, independence of advisors, and principle of #climate justice.
 
@alankellylabour Please ensure #climatebill includes the recommendation for quick adoption of the first National Mitigation Plan.  
 
@<your local TD> Your voice is needed to strengthen the #climatebill. Key recommendations here: http://tinyurl.com/k5emkar
 
@<your local TD> Our #climatebill is too weak and needs these urgent amendments: http://tinyurl.com/k5emkar  Will you act?
 
 

What’s wrong with the Climate Action Bill?

1. It fails to set a numeric target for emission reduction for the future. This is a fundamental flaw, as it means there is little concrete direction for the coming years.  In place of a numeric target, an alternative option is to define what is meant by low carbon, which would at least provide some clarity.  This definition is also missing!
 
2.  The body tasked with giving advice to the Government on climate change matters is not independent, despite the advice from the Environment Committee that all members should be independent of State or stakeholder interests. Instead the Bill provides for a body of no more than 9 members, 4 of whom represent state bodies.
 
3.  It does not provide for the inclusion of climate justice. The Climate Action Bill is about mapping out a strong and sustainable future for Ireland. It is also about ensuring that Ireland lives up to its global responsibilities. As a nation that has benefited from our own development to date, we need to do our fair share. The Tánaiste declared to the UN General Assembly in 2011 that "there is a compelling case for 'climate justice' – bringing developmental fairness to bear on the climate change agenda". Provision for the principle of climate justice provides the opportunity to realise this. 
 
4.  Most worryingly, the Government’s recent decision to extend the one year deadline to produce a national mitigation plan to two years gets them ‘off the hook’. The last national climate change strategy expired in 2012 and now we are told that we may have to wait until 2017 for its replacement and before the next Government start to take climate action.  This is not good enough!  Nor does it bode well for Ireland’s commitment to take the necessary steps at the vital UN Climate Change Conference in Paris later this year.  
 
This is a critical moment to put Ireland on the path to a sustainable future.   Many of us have been campaigning for this moment since 2008.  We can’t let it end in disappointment.  

For campaigners in Northern Ireland, we will be in contact in March detailing how we can together help push climate change further up the political agenda at Stormont.

 

Drop in the Ocean? Ireland and Climate Change Trailer

On February 23, we will be releasing our documentary 'Drop in the Ocean? Ireland and Climate Change.' We've interviewed some of Ireland’s leading environmental scientists, writers and activists and asked them where Ireland fits in the global climate change picture. How is  climate change affecting Ireland and what impacts will it have if carbon emissions remain unchecked? How do we contribute to it? And what role can Ireland play if we are to become part of the solution?

 

Read more:

 
November 06, 2014

One year after Typhoon Haiyan

By Meabh Smith, reporting from the Philippines. All photos by Peter O'Doherty.

It’s 12 months since Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest ever storm to make landfall, struck the Philippines. Thousands died and the damage was catastrophic. 

People in Ireland donated over €3 million towards our emergency appeal to support survivors.  

Trócaire has been supporting brave Filipino people to rebuild their lives, as part of the global Caritas network, funding new homes, debris clearance, water, sanitation and psychosocial care. 

Thank you so much to all who supported our appeal. Here are some of the people you have helped...

 

Apolonio Orbito Philippines

 

Apolonio Orbia (above) from San Antonio on Cebu Island was found sitting on the side of a hill after his home and all he had was blown away. Sr. Anne Healy, an Irish nun from the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary missionary order, received funding from Trócaire to build new homes for Apolonio and his community. 

 

Sister Anne Healy Philippines
 
 
Sr. Anne (above) drove for hours to reach affected villages after the typhoon hit. “The fear on their faces. They didn’t know what was going to happen. Afterwards the children were scared when they saw the rain. It was very hard... People have helped each other to rebuild.”
 
Lucrisia Pepito Philippines
 
“I cried when the typhoon hit. The fog was so bad. I couldn’t see my neighbours and it was so windy. I’m very happy now,” says Lucrisia Pepito (pictured above).
 
rebuilding schools on bantayan island
 
Trócaire is supporting school reconstruction on Bantayan island. Schools were used as a place of refuge after the typhoon. 
 
Feliso Deo Philippines
 
Local parent Feliso Deo (above) explained: “We saw the roof of our house fly off. We ran from room to room... We went to the school. It was flooded. The water was up to my knee, so we put holes in the walls to drain it. At night we put roof insulation of the floor to sleep on. The young children lay down, the older children and adults slept sitting up. People had no food. I shared what I had. We are happy that the schools are being rebuilt and that our houses are repaired.”
 
Argie and Julie Anne outside Trocaire funded house in Tacloban
 
“The storm surge came in three big tidal waves. We heard a loud noise, then the water. There was metal and trees flying around” say Julie Anne and Argie Barigon (pictured outside their Trócaire-funded house above).
 
“There were lots of people going to the airport to leave this place. On our way there we saw dead bodies all over the road. The smell was so bad in the airport. My children got rashes and got sick from drinking dirty water. After two days a navy ship brought us to Cebu.

 

“This house is better than the one we had before the typhoon. Now, we are alert all the time and keep safe. We have a cell phone and track the news and radio to hear if there is a storm coming.”

 

mildred taboso tacloban
 

Single mother, Mildred Taboso, holds a picture of her two children who were killed in the typhoon. She said: “The work of Trócaire and CRS [Trócaire partner] has really helped, to have this house and not have to build it myself. When the typhoon came we stayed here because we didn’t know that there would be a flood. The water was over 15 feet. We left after the second wave came. My two children were taken by the water within an hour. I miss them sleeping in my arms.” 

 
November 05, 2014

Ireland’s carbon emissions equal to that of 400 million of the world’s poor

"Climate change threatens to undo all the gains that have been made against poverty", according to Trócaire's new in-depth report ‘Feeling the Heat: How climate change is driving extreme weather in the developing world'.

The report published today (Wednesday, 5 November) analyses of the impact of climate change on the developing world and calls for the Irish government to introduce binding targets to reduce Ireland’s carbon footprint.feeling the heat trocaire climate change report

It was officially launched today by Alan Kelly, Minister for the Environment and Local Government.

Speaking at the launch, Trócaire Executive Director Éamonn Meehan said:

“People in Ireland emit an average of 8.8 metric tonnes of carbon each year compared to just 0.1 metric tonne for Ethiopians. Each Irish person is responsible for as much carbon emissions as 88 Ethiopians, meaning that it would take 404 million Ethiopians – over four times the population of the country – to match Ireland’s carbon footprint.

“Ireland is significantly off-track for meeting our 2020 emission reduction targets. Given that we are the eighth highest carbon emitter per capita in Europe, and the 35th highest globally, we need to step-up to the plate. We need a binding roadmap to guide Ireland towards a fossil-free economy and we need investment in sustainable lifestyles that give people the options they need to reduce their carbon footprint.”

‘Feeling the Heat’ analyses the impact of climate change in five developing countries: the Philippines, Ethiopia, Malawi, Honduras and Kenya. The report is released on the week that marks the first anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan, which resulted in over 6,000 deaths in the Philippines last November.

Amongst the report’s findings for the Philippines are:

  • At least 75 million people in the Philippines are at direct risk from the impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels, storms and damage to agriculture.
  • Temperatures in the Philippines have risen by 0.64 degree Celsius since 1951.
  • There has been a significant increase in weather extremes, with regular drought during dry spells and floods during wet seasons.
  • Without urgent remedial action temperatures in the Philippines will rise by 4 degrees Celsius by 2100, with even the ‘best case scenario’ predicting a 1 degree Celsius rise in temperature by the end of 2100.
  • A 4 degree Celsius rise in temperature will significantly increase both the intensity and frequency of storms in the Philippines, putting millions of people at risk.
  • Impacts on agriculture will cost the Philippines 2.2 per cent of GDP annually by 2100.
  • The report concludes that climate change in the Philippines is set to result in “more malnutrition, higher poverty levels and possibly heightened social unrest and conflict in certain areas in the country due to loss of land.”

 

Amongst the report’s other findings are:

  • 90% of the population of Malawi are at risk of hunger due to drought. Rainfall in Malawi could fall by as much as 25 per cent by the end of the century.
  • Floods and storms have increased in frequency in Honduras, with 65 extreme weather events recorded in the last 20 years at a cost of $4.7bn.
  • Yields from food crops in Honduras will drop by up to 10 per cent by 2020 due to increased drought.
  • Rainfall in Kenya has reduced significantly over the last 30 years and temperatures are set to rise by up to 4.5 degrees Celsius by 2100.
  • Net economic costs of climate change could be equivalent to a loss of almost 3 per cent of GDP each year by 2030 in Kenya.
  • Agricultural output in Ethiopia could fall by as much as 10 per cent as a result of climate change.
  • The growing season in Ethiopia has already reduced by 15 per cent as a result of drought.

 

Commenting on the report’s findings, Éamonn Meehan said: “This report brings home the reality of the impacts of climate change on people’s lives. Climate change is not just a scientific concept or a threat for the future, it is very real and it is affecting people today.

“The most recent IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report has warned that climate change will increase poverty and hunger over the coming decades. What our research shows is that this is already happening to a frightening degree. The poorest and most vulnerable people in the world are on the front lines and are seeing their ability to grow food and earn an income diminish by the day.

“Climate change threatens to undo all the gains that have been made against poverty over recent decades. It is the single biggest threat to humanity but yet the political system has refused to move quickly enough to address it.”

Read the full report: ‘Feeling the Heat: How climate change is driving extreme weather in the developing world'

 

October 09, 2014

Are you ready to act on climate change?

Are you 16-18 years old? Do you want to learn more about the causes of climate change and experience its effects first hand? 
 
Then sign up for our ‘Climate Change Challenge Weekend’ taking place at the University of Maynooth on 14-16 November 2014. This weekend is for young people who are concerned about the effect that our changing climate is having on people and communities around the world, and want to find out how to get involved in tackling climate injustice in the developing countries.
 
We have four main aims for the weekend:
  1. To increase your knowledge of climate change;
  2. To help you understand why climate change is an urgent social justice issue, what we call ‘climate justice’;
  3. To assist you in making connections with experienced activists and hear stories from around the world;
  4. To give you the knowledge and skills to become a climate justice activist.
 
Throughout the weekend you will examine the causes, effects and possible ways to mitigate climate change through a variety of activities, for example: activist workshops; Trócaire staff presentations; special guest speaker; a disaster simulation exercise; drama; documentary viewing. 
 
If you are aged between 16 and 18 years old (on the 14 November), then contact mboyce@trocaire.ie for further information and an application form. The cost for the weekend is £20/€25. If this amount is not feasible for you, please do not hesitate to contact Trócaire in confidence.
 
The closing date for applications is 17 October 2014.
 
We plan to create an atmosphere built around mutual respect and understanding between you as participants, Trócaire staff and volunteers, and other agencies who join us at different times during the Climate Change Challenge. We will use a ‘Buddy System’ for the weekend, which means you will be in groups of three peers with a team leader to guide you through the different activities. Attendance is obligatory for all activities. We will support you to make choices and direct your own learning experience. All participants must remain on Maynooth University campus at all times.
 
Your planet needs you! Will you act? 
 
climate change challenge flyer
 
 
 

September 24, 2014

Climate change is no longer a stand-alone issue, it is the entire context in which the world exists

by Eithne McNulty, Trócaire's Director in Northern Ireland

Humans, along with every other species, depend totally on the proper functioning of the planet for the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. A small change to nature’s system can have the effect of knocking the entire basis of life on earth out of synch. 

Tragically, we are seeing one such change. It is called climate change and it cannot be described as small.

Fact: the earth’s average temperature is higher today than it was before mass industrialisation. Fact: each of the last three decades have been successively warmer than any preceding decade since 1850.

The scientific evidence is unequivocal: not only is our climate changing, it is changing as a direct result of carbon emissions from human activity. If emissions continue as they are, experts warn that by 2100 average global temperatures will be between 3.7-4.8°C higher than today.

Such a rise would have a profound impact on sea levels, rainfall patterns and the frequency of extreme weather events. These, in turn, would similarly have a profound impact on our ability to live. Crop yields across much of Africa are predicted to fall, including by up to 50 per cent by 2020 in some countries, as a direct consequence of climate change. Even optimistic predictions forecast that there could be an additional 86 million malnourished children in the world by 2050.

We do not have to look to the future to see the devastation of climate change, of course. Today, one in twelve people across the world is at risk of hunger. Through my work with Trócaire I have seen how drought, storms and floods are plunging people already on the edge into further poverty.

The reality is simple: climate change is no longer a stand-alone issue, it is the entire context in which the world exists.

Women walk to the market close to Chuka in the Tharaka district of central Kenya

Women walk to the market in an area seriously affected by climate change impacts in the Tharaka district of central Kenya. (Photo: Eoghan Rice)

 

When world leaders met in New York yesterday (Sept 23rd) at the UN Climate Summit, the urgency for genuine action has never been greater. The decisions we take this week and over the coming years will have huge implications on a wide range of issues, from food production to mass migration, for decades to come.

Despite dire predictions from experts who warn that we are running out of time to avoid a future of mass displacement and growing hunger, political leaders have until now chosen to ignore long-term issues in favour of short-term gains.

Collectively, the world has chosen to ignore a catastrophe that is heading straight towards us.

We have recently seen the impact of conflict in many countries around the world – Syria, Iraq and others. These conflicts have been driven by factors that are not linked to the changing environment. However, the UN has warned that the depletion of renewable natural resources, combined with environmental degradation and climate change, poses fundamental threats to human security. Disputes and grievances over natural resources can be a major contributing factor to violent conflict when they overlap with high levels of inequality, poverty, injustice and poor governance.

One of the greatest injustices in today’s world is that those who have done least to contribute to the planet’s changing climate are the very people who are suffering most from its effects.

The average person in Northern Ireland is responsible for emitting 8.3 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year – 83 times the amount of the average Ethiopian. All industrialised countries need to cut carbon emissions as a matter of urgency.

We need changes to our economy and government policies. Each of us has a role to play, be it in our homes, our schools or our businesses.

Justine Greening, the UK Secretary of State for International Development, and the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, attended the UN Summit on Climate Change. They should be willing to seize the opportunity to become climate champions and push political decision-makers and the international community to agree fair and binding global targets to reduce emissions and support developing countries dealing with climate change. Closer to home, paramount to effecting change will be whether or not the Assembly has the courage to introduce a Northern Ireland Climate Change Act   with a legally binding regional target to reduce carbon emissions from 1990 levels by at least 40% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.

This New York meeting will set the tone for the work that needs to be achieved in the coming months in advance of the new global climate deal which is expected to be agreed at talks in Paris next year. In the run up to this Summit people have taken to the streets in New York, in Belfast, in Dublin and around the world in the biggest ever mobilisation on climate change, and they are calling for responsible leadership: it is now up to our leaders to step up to the plate.

We need to respond to climate change before it’s too late. If we do not then what kind of legacy will we be leaving future generations?

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September 22, 2014

The day the world woke up to demand climate justice

Trócaire’s Lorna Gold reports from New York, where 310,000 people took to the streets ahead of Tuesday’s UN Climate Summit.

The 21st September was no ordinary day. I would even go so far as saying that it was one of the most extraordinary days in modern times. It was the day that the whole world woke up to global warming and the people said with one voice: we care, we want change, we want climate justice.

For sure there have been big marches before – but nothing on this scale. From Australia to Sri Lanka, from Jakarta to Nairobi, from Dublin to New York – people joined together in nearly 3000 coordinated events to say to world leaders that we demand action. On Tuesday, as the leaders gather at the UN they will have the eyes of the world on them as never before.

Never before has the full power of social media been harnessed to collectively organise diverse groups across the globe and to send one message to world leaders as one voice. It was a coming together of online and offline activism like never before.

I had the privilege of being at the New York march, which was carried off in true New Yorker style. Everyone was there: local neighbourhood groups, young families with babies, dancing polar bears, healthcare workers, rabbis, bishops, elderly people in wheelchairs, people dressed as mermaids, and thousands upon thousands of young people. The organisers estimated that 50,000 students joined the march – stretching for ten full blocks of the city. In total, around 310,000 people marched through New York.

The atmosphere was carnival like. Music, drums, dancing – reclaiming the streets of Manhattan for the people, at least for one day. The atmosphere was electric. There was a feeling of emotional release: finally, our voice is being heard. At one spine tingling point the entire 310,000 raised their hands in silence to think of those affected by climate change. You could have heard a pin drop. Then, from the back of the march, some four kilometres away, a Mexican wave roared all the way down to the front. 

The slogans on the thousands of hand painted banners said it all for me: “There is no planet B” “Keep the coal in the hole” “planets do not grown on trees” “Explain to future generations – ‘it was good for the economy’”. Meantime people chanted “this is what democracy looks like” “what do we want? Climate justice. When do we want it? Now.”

Far from being an environmental lobby issue, this was about ordinary people and their lives. People came to the march for many reasons. For many it is about the future their children will inherit. The number of grandparents and young families bearing the heat and humidity to be there was striking. For some it was about their own homes which are at risk of flooding. For others it was about a moral purpose – saving the world.

People want radical change. No matter why they came, they can see the injustice of climate change around them. They came because they want the government to listen to the people and not to be beholden to the oil industry or other corporate forces. A common theme through the march was divestment from fossils fuels and other destructive industries such as fracking.

One of the best slogans at the march showed the World Wildlife Fund panda shouting “Save the Humans.” This summed up the change for me. People have finally realised that climate change is not just about polar bears. It is far more important than that. It is about our planet, our future as a species. It is about people and justice.

I left the march today with my heart full of hope. Change is most definitely in the air. The tipping point is near. The people have spoken up. World leaders now need to listen and make the change that is needed. They need to commit to divesting from fossil fuels, and commit to binding emissions targets. They need to put money on the table to help the poorest countries adapt.

One thing is absolutely certain – this mass movement is not going to stay quiet. It has taken some time, but like generations before them that ended apartheid and slavery, the people have finally found their voice. It will only get louder.

September 15, 2014

Join the largest climate mobilisation in history on September 21

September 21 is set to be the largest public mobilisation in history against climate change. Trócaire’s Emmet Sheerin writes about the reason for this, and calls on people here in Ireland to take part in the worldwide event.


On September 21, in towns, villages and cities across the world, people will be gathering to show that they care about climate change – that they demand a fair and adequate response to this global problem.


The international day of action is being held just 48 hours before world leaders, including our own Taoiseach Enda Kenny, meet in New York for a summit on climate change. The summit is being hosted by the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, and will be one of the most high-profile, global moments focused on climate change in years. It is hoped that the summit can generate the much needed political will and momentum towards agreeing a universal binding agreement on climate change in 2015.


In reality, however, without significant public pressure, it is highly unlikely that world leaders will take the necessary measures to adequately tackle climate change. The international day of action is therefore an opportunity to put pressure on world leaders to step up to the mark. It is a chance for Irish people to send a strong message to the Taoiseach demanding action on climate change, not simply words.


As part of the run up to the event, Trócaire went along to Electric Picnic, armed with a few trad musicians and a giant heart. We asked people to write on the giant heart the thing they love and want to protect against climate change. Take a look at the video below to see what people care about.  


Make your voice heard and join us for the People’s Climate Picnic, Sunday September 21

Dublin: The Bandstand, St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, 12-2pm

Belfast: The lawn outside the Whitla Hall at Queen's University Belfast, 1pm-3pm



Now is the time for us all to act on climate change for the love of everything we hold dear!

August 01, 2014

All change? New faces at home and abroad on climate change

In her new role as UN Special Envoy for Climate Change, Mary Robinson’s task is nothing short of convincing very reluctant world leaders to stop dithering and to respond with the urgency warranted by the threat of climate change, writes Niamh Garvey, Policy Officer
 
The role is fitting for the former High Commissioner for Human Rights, as there is no greater threat to human rights across the board than climate change. 
 
It threatens the right to food, the right to water, the right to shelter and the right to life.
 
This new role will be an immense challenge, but also an incredibly timely one. By the end of next year global leaders are due to agree an historic global deal to prevent runaway climate change, and as Special Envoy, Mary Robinson’s role will be to convince them to make the decisions and take the actions on climate change that they've so long evaded.
 
This will require Presidents and Prime Ministers to transcend their narrow national self-interests in order to take the really tough but vital decisions to protect people and the natural world on which we all depend.  
 
While there are some encouraging signs, including recently announced co-ordinated action on climate change by President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China, progress among all world leaders to negotiate an international treaty on climate change is moving at a glacial pace towards a deadline for agreement in Paris at the end of next year. 
 
As founder of the Mary Robinson Climate Justice Foundation, Mary Robinson’s approach will be much more than about getting any agreement. 
 
A ‘climate justice’ approach, which Trócaire has been calling for since 2007, means that we not only tackle the problem of climate change, but do so in such a way that ensures the most vulnerable people who are hit hardest whilst having done the least to cause the problem put at the centre of the response.  Mary Robinson is a powerful voice for such communities and we wish her every success with this role. 
 
mary robinson trocaire doha 2010
Mary Robinson pictured with Trócaire partners at the climate change negotiations in Durban in 2010
 
A first milestone will happen in September later this year when her boss, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon holds a Climate Summit in New York. He has invited global leaders, including our own Taoiseach Enda Kenny, to come and make announcements on what they are doing to advance progress on the response to climate change. He has set the bar high and it will be an important milestone for generating momentum towards a global deal.  
 
With an Irish woman in the high profile role of putting the case for climate action, will the Taoiseach announce enough of substance to make Ireland one of Mary Robinson’s ‘star’ or ‘problem’ countries?
 
This question will be to a large degree answered by the new face of climate policies at home. The recent Cabinet reshuffle has seen ‘Big Phil’ (Phil Hogan) head to Europe, and Alan Kelly take up the position of Minister for Environment and Local Government. 
 
Action in this Department, including delivering the long-standing commitment to bring in legislation on climate change, will set the tone for what the Taoiseach will be able to announce. The “Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill’ as it is known, is vital to putting Ireland on track for a low carbon future.  
 
Despite being in the programme for government since 2011 it has been an uphill struggle to get this piece of legislation past the post. An apparent u-turn by Minister Hogan back in November 2011 nearly took the Bill off the table altogether, but with lots of support from our campaigners, over 7,600 of who have taken action to call for the Bill, concerned citizens have managed to keep the issue alive.  
 
Minister Kelly has inherited a draft Heads of Bill that is yet to be formally published by the Government and still needs to go through the Oireachtas.  
 
To make his mark in this area, he should put the Climate Bill on the ‘A list’ for the new Dail term, and implement the recommendations of the cross-party Oireachtas Committee on the Environment report to address the current draft’s weaknesses.
 
It we want to do Mary Robinson proud, this Bill together with Ireland’s ‘fair share’ of climate finance to support developing countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change would provide the Taoiseach with the substance he needs to announce Ireland’s action at the Ban Ki Moon Summit in September in New York. 
 
It would be a strong signal that Ireland is prepared to play our part in getting world leaders collectively on track to delivering a global deal on climate change in 2015.
 

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