Just World. the Blog.

December 22, 2015

Responding to need and campaigning for change - how you made a difference in 2015

By Éamonn Meehan, Trócaire's Executive Director

2015 will be remembered by many as a year bookended by terror in Paris, but the appalling violence inflicted on the French capital in January and again in November should not blind us to some of the hugely significant and positive developments over the year. 

While international summits don’t generally provide too many water cooler moments, 2015 saw three very important such gatherings which will profoundly impact the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world. 

These summits - in Ethiopia and New York to set new anti-poverty goals and financial agreements to fund them, and later in Paris where the historic global agreement on climate change was agreed – all offered degrees of hope in a year that was so sadly tragic in many other ways. 

The refugee crisis caught the world’s attention in September when the body of three year old Aylan Kurdi was washed up on a Turkish beach. The awful image sparked a huge outpouring of emotion and sympathy right across Europe, and led to many European states, including Ireland, taking welcome, if long overdue, steps to respond to the refugee crisis that is already in its fifth year. 

Like many others, Trócaire had been trying to highlight this crisis for a long time. The Syrian war will mark its fifth anniversary in March 2016 – sadly, there is no sign of this crisis ending. The world urgently needs to bring peace to Syria to stop the completely unacceptable suffering of the Syrian people.

petul refugee from syria  

Petul (11), a Syrian refugee arrives in Presevo refugee centre, Serbia after a long journey and gets aid from Trócaire partner, Caritas Serbia​. 2015 has seen record numbers of people displaced by violence around the world. 

While conflict displaced millions in Syria, earthquakes forced people in Nepal and Pakistan from their homes. 

The earthquake which struck Nepal in April left much of the country devastated. The outpouring of support in Ireland was immediate as people donated money and organised fundraising events to support our efforts to get shelter, food and water to people affected. 

That support allowed Trócaire to help get aid to 220,000 people affected by the earthquake. Our work in Nepal continues – long after the cameras are gone, your donations are building permanent, earthquake-resistant houses for people there. 

In October, a similar earthquake struck Afghanistan and Pakistan. Again, people in Ireland responded with the urgency that has always characterised their response to humanitarian disaster. We are continuing to work in affected areas in Pakistan to rebuild and restore. 

Trócaire in Nepal

Trócaire's Conor O'Loughlin helping the reflief efforts in Nepal after the devastating earthquake in April. 

The refugee crisis and the two earthquakes in Nepal and Pakistan led to Trócaire issuing three humanitarian appeals in 2015. We are immensely grateful for the continued support of so many people across Ireland who have enabled us to make a difference to people suffering through these awful experiences. 

Trócaire launches humanitarian interventions to respond to sudden and urgent needs but our long-term development work continues throughout the year. Much of this work is funded by our annual Lenten appeal, which this year focused on the impacts of climate change on farming communities in Ethiopia. We brought you the story of Mahlet and her family who, along with tens of millions of others across Africa, are finding it increasingly difficult to grow enough food due to changing weather patterns. 

Trócaire Lenten campaign 2015

Mahlet and her family featured on the 2015 Trócaire Lent campaign which highlighted the impact of climate change on rural families in Ethiopia.

Climate change was our major focus for 2015. We are seeing its impacts first-hand and responding to its impacts on a daily basis. While climate change also affects Ireland its impacts are less visible and so we have tried to raise awareness in Ireland of the devastating impact of droughts and extreme weather in the developing world. 

In June we held a climate conference in Maynooth that featured addresses by Mary Robinson, Bill McKibben and Professor Jean Pascal Van Ypersele amongst others. The conference generated a lot of attention and helped to shine a spotlight on the issue at a particularly crucial time in Ireland given the drafting of our Climate Bill. 

Trócaire has campaigned for several years for climate legislation in Ireland to ensure that we are playing our part in tackling this global crisis. The Climate Bill finally did pass through the Dáil earlier this month, meaning that for the first time Ireland has legislation linked to climate change.

The passing of the Bill coincided with the UN Climate Summit in Paris. The weekend prior to the Summit, over 5,000 people took part in street demonstrations across Ireland organised by Trócaire and the Stop Climate Chaos coalition. 

When you consider that over recent months we have seen domestic legislation passed, an international agreement secured and huge public demonstrations calling for increased climate action, it is clear that this has been a very important year for the climate justice movement. Huge work remains over the years ahead but we now have solid building blocks to start this work. 

Dublin climate march

November saw the largest climate-related street demonstrations ever seen in Ireland as thousands came out to demand strong political action. 

Our supporters and campaigners will have an important role in continuing to push for climate justice. The climate changes being experienced in the developing world are driving hunger and poverty and we have an obligation and a duty to speak out and hold industrialised nations to account for their role in creating this crisis. 

I want to thank all of our supporters for their generosity and commitment over what has been a busy, challenging, but hugely significant, year. 

On behalf of Trócaire, I wish you all a very happy Christmas and a peaceful new year. 

December 12, 2015

Historic Paris climate deal ‘a road map rather than a solution’

The historic climate deal agreed in Paris today should be regarded as a road map for urgent action as opposed to a definitive solution to protect people from the worst impacts of climate change.

It is hugely significant that political leaders from 196 countries have for the first time agreed a climate deal, but the eventual success of the Paris Agreement will be determined by future action to build on its foundation. 

The agreement represents a welcome milestone in uniting the world against climate change. However, the deal contains significant weaknesses and must be built upon through urgent action from all sectors to protect the most vulnerable. The absence of human rights at the heart of the agreement highlights the fact that the global political system is still not putting the needs of the world’s poorest people at the heart of its actions.

“The fact that the whole world has agreed to united action on climate change for the first time is hugely significant,” said Trócaire’s Lorna Gold. “The Paris Agreement marks a key shift from whether collective action is necessary, to what type of action is necessary and how it must be delivered.

“This deal leaves us a long way from preventing the worst impacts of climate change for the most vulnerable but does increase political momentum on the issue. The deal is far from perfect, but it has the potential to set governments on a determined path.”

Lorna said that this agreement is the result of people power from around the world as people have demanded political action on the issue. 

“This deal is the result of the growing public demand for governments all over the world to take action on climate change,” she said. “Governments knew they couldn't return home without an agreement. This Summit has highlighted the fact that politicians are lagging behind people on the desire for climate action and they need to catch-up. 

“No stroke of a pen can solve this urgent and growing crisis. This deal can set the right conditions and clear the path for even greater effort by everyone over the coming years. Public pressure must continue from all sides and everyone. Each of us has the opportunity to get on board and make positive changes.”

Dublin climate march

Thousands of people last month took part in rallies in Ireland calling for a strong deal in Paris.

 

Commenting on terms of the agreement, she said that there are positive starting points, including a focus on providing financial support to developing countries impacted by climate change. However, the absence of human rights protections from the heart of the text and an ambiguous long-term goal means it is still unclear whether we have a strong solution based on climate justice.

“Climate change is one of the major drivers of poverty and hunger in the developing world,” she said. “Protecting people experiencing hunger or poverty as a result of climate impacts has to be the fundamental purpose of any global agreement, so it is very disappointing that the agreement fails to refer to the need to protect human rights. Real climate justice means enshrining the rights of the most vulnerable at the heart of our actions.

"Given the huge number of people facing hunger and lack of access to sufficient and nutritious food in developing countries, the Agreement does not place enough emphasis on the key issue of protecting food security. However, it does recognise that food production is threatened by the adverse impacts of climate change.

“The reference to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is the headline announcement but the process to make that a reality is still lacking. To achieve this, politicians needed to definitively signal the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era by 2050. It’s important to have ambitious targets but even more important is the policy ambition to actually achieve them. The new review process in the agreement is a start but this needs to be backed up by regular increased action.”

Lorna also said that the Irish government has much work to do to set Ireland on the right path towards meeting EU emission reduction targets and playing a positive role in the global efforts to protect people from climate change.

“Governments all over the world, including Ireland, now have to take urgent concrete steps to reduce emissions across all sectors,” she said. “The Dáil recently passed Ireland’s first climate legislation. Under the terms of the new legislation, which was signed into law this week, the national action plan does not have to be produced until 2017 but that is far too late. We need the action plan in 2016 to give Ireland the best chance of meeting its 2020 targets and build on the global political momentum that Paris has delivered.”

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December 10, 2015

'The next 24 hours may decide the fate of entire nations'

The clock is ticking here in Paris as negotiators from over 190 countries attempt to produce an agreement to stop the world hurtling towards catastrophic levels of climate change over the coming decades. 

The UN Climate Summit is supposed to wrap-up on Friday evening, but with less than two days of negotiating left to go there remains no agreement on very basic and fundamental issues. 

What will be the upper limit of accepted temperature rises? What percentage of carbon emissions must we reduce by? What is the timeframe for this reduction? 

The most recently updated draft version of the agreement still has huge question marks over these very core issues, and that is without getting into the finer details. 

Worryingly, the most recent text is very disappointing on the issues of human rights and food security. Positive sections of earlier drafts enshrining human rights into the agreement have been removed, while there remains an emphasis on large scale food production rather than protecting subsistence farmers.

A display of flags at the UN Climate Summit

A display at the UN Climate Summit shows the flag for each country taking part in the negotiations.

 

That is not to say that progress is not being made at the Summit. 

The initial draft text had so many options listed under various headings that it ran to 54 pages. Agreement has been found on many of these issues, meaning the updated text is just 29 pages long. 

Many of the less contentious issues have been resolved, leaving negotiators facing a mammoth final few hours to agree the rest. 

Indeed, the fact that the negotiations are still ongoing is in itself a good sign. Previous Summits have collapsed long before the final hours so the fact that teams are still locked into rooms speaking with each other is encouraging. 

A miniature Eiffel Tower at the UN Climate Summit

A minature Eiffel Tower at the UN Climate Summit contains messages for negotiators.

 

Kiribati and Tuvalu, island nations under threat of being submerged by rising seas, are two of the many countries represented here for whom this is not just a Summit to discuss technicalities – this is a Summit for Survival. Their negotiating teams are reportedly encouraged that the option of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is still on the table. The fact that industrialised nations have not dismissed this in favour of a less ambitious target gives them hope that their countries may survive. 

What an incredibly anxious 24 hours ahead for them – the decisions made in negotiating rooms here will decide the fate of their nations.

The Forest of Flags outside the UN Climate Summit

The 'Forest of Flags' at the entrance to the UN Climate Summit displays the flags of each country represented at the Summit

 

Each morning as the negotiators file into the Summit venue they walk through a ‘Forest of Flags’, which displays the flags of each of the countries represented here. Looking at the flags of countries such as Kiribati, Tuvalu, Bangladesh, Malawi and the Philippines – countries already battling the impacts of climate change - is a stark reminder of exactly what is at stake here. 

These are the countries on the frontline for whom failure in Paris is simply not an option.

The clock is ticking, in more ways than one. 

December 03, 2015

Climate legislation must be followed by a national action plan


Today’s passing of the Climate Bill into law is a welcome step on the road towards ending government inaction on climate change but must be followed by the urgent development of a national plan to fulfil national and international commitments, said Trócaire.

While the passing of the Bill has been welcomed, with the inclusion of the principle of climate justice a particularly positive development, the agency warned that the 18-month timeframe outlined for the production of the first national mitigation plan was too long. The absence of the plan to ensure action across all sectors will put Ireland further off track to meet its 2020 and 2030 emission reduction objectives. Ireland is one of only four EU member states not on course to meet its 2020 obligations.

Trócaire Executive Director Éamonn Meehan says that the worrying comments from the Taoiseach at the UN Climate Summit in Paris earlier this week regarding Ireland’s commitment to EU emission reductions highlighted the importance of this plan being produced without delay.

“Climate change is having a devastating impact on the world’s poorest people and so we welcome the introduction of climate legislation that can pave the way for Ireland to do its fair share in tackling this global crisis,” he said.

“The importance of a national mitigation plan being developed was highlighted this week by the Taoiseach’s confusing performance at the UN Climate Summit, where he appeared to tell world leaders one thing and Irish media another. Having confirmed in his speech that Ireland is determined to play its part in reaching EU emission reduction commitments, he told Irish journalists that these commitments are unrealistic.”

Trócaire today met with Ireland's Environment Minister Alan Kelly to hand over a global petition signed by over 840,000 people, including several thousand Irish people, calling for strong global action on climate at the UN Climate Summit. The petition was organised by the Global Catholic Climate Movement.

Trócaire's Joanne McGarry and John Smith hand the Global Catholic Climate Movement petition to Environment Minister Alan Kelly 

Trócaire's Joanne McGarry and John Smith hand the Global Catholic Climate Movement petition to Environment Minister Alan Kelly.

 

Trócaire has been calling for strong climate legislation for several years. Éamonn Meehan said that the policy vacuum over recent years has hindered Ireland’s ability to contribute to the global effort to reduce the impacts of climate change.

“The reason Ireland is lagging behind on its commitments is because of the absence of concrete action on climate due to the absence of any climate policy since 2012,” he said. “This policy vacuum has meant that key policies for economic recovery have been developed in the absence of any real consideration of our climate emissions. This situation must now be reversed. If we do not agree a national plan until 2017, as envisaged by this legislation, we will have less than three years to meet our commitments. The production of this national plan must now be prioritised.

“The introduction of climate legislation is welcome but there is much more we need to do to ensure Ireland takes an approach based on climate justice so that we meet our international obligations and support the world’s poorest people. The urgent development of a national plan to meet EU emission reduction targets by 2020 has to be a priority.”

Read about Trócaire's seven-year campaign for this Irish climate law.

November 30, 2015

Thousands join climate marches across Ireland


Thousands of people took to the streets of Ireland on Sunday to call for a global deal on climate to be agreed at the UN Climate Summit in Paris. 

Approximately 4,500 people marched through the streets of Dublin, while 1,000 turned out in Cork. Hundreds more attended rallies in Galway and Belfast on the eve of the summit beginning in Paris. 

The marchers came from a wide range of organisations and backgrounds, including environmentalists, overseas development agencies, faith groups, cycling groups and trade unions, as well as many people unalligned with any group but simply wanting to voice their concern about the danger posed by climate change to people around the world. 

 

Marchers taking part in the Dublin Climate March

People march through Dublin to call for a global agreement on climate to be reached at the UN Climate Summit.

 

The events were organised by the Stop Climate Chaos network, which includes organisations such as Trócaire, Friends of the Earth and the People’s Climate. 

The marches were the largest climate demonstrations seen in Ireland, showing the growing concern felt by Irish people about the impact of environmental degradation on people’s lives. Similar marches were held in over 150 cities around the world. 

Trócaire campaigner Amy Colgan addresses the crowd in Dublin

Trócaire campaigner Amy Colgan addresses the crowd in Dublin. 

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is due to address the opening stages of the summit today. Trócaire has called on the Taoiseach to show leadership by signalling Ireland’s intention to sign-up to an ambitious and legally-binding deal that would phase-out fossil fuels by mid-century.

“The fact that these talks are being held at a time when millions of people all along the eastern seaboard of Africa are experiencing chronic food shortages due to drought highlights exactly what is at stake,” said Trócaire Executive Director Éamonn Meehan. “If millions of people experiencing hunger due to drought can’t motivate political leaders to take action, one wonders what can.”

Trócaire volunteers at the Climate March in Dublin

Young people taking part in Sunday's huge climate march in Dublin, which saw approximately 4,500 people take to the streets.

 

Trócaire campaigns on climate change due to the impacts being felt in the developing world. Climate change is one of the biggest drivers of poverty and hunger in the world, and that will only intensify as long as political leaders fail to take action to reduce its impacts.

“Climate change is not just an environmental issue, it is an issue of justice and equality,” said Éamonn Meehan. “Fundamentally, it is eroding people’s human rights, including the right to food. It is estimated that 2.5 billion smallholder farmers provide 80 per cent of the food consumed in southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The vast majority of them are dependent on rain to grow their crops but climate change is altering rain patterns and extending droughts.”

November 27, 2015

5 reasons to join the climate march on Sunday

This Sunday, Dublin, Cork and Belfast will join over 150 cities around the world in hosting climate marches, where people will call on political leaders sign a global agreement to tackle climate change at the UN Climate Summit that begins the following day in Paris.

Enda Kenny will address the UN Climate Summit on Monday morning and the march organisers, including Trócaire and the Stop Climate Chaos network, are hoping to send the Taoiseach to Paris with a loud message ringing in his ears. 

Here’s five reasons why you should join the marches on Sunday.

1. Floods

Ireland has suffered extensive storm damage over the last number of years, and it is only going to get worse. 

The most recent flooding came last month when the River Lee burst its banks and badly flooded parts of Cork. The previous month, millions of euro worth of damage was done in West Cork by floods. Huge money is being invested in flood plans for Cork due to the increased frequency of rivers bursting their banks in the county. 

But it’s not just Cork that is at risk. Waterford and Galway are two other urban centres at high risk of flooding, while Dublin has also seen regular flood events. 

Coastal areas of Dublin such as the Docklands, Sandymount and Clontarf have experienced bad flooding over recent years, as have many inland areas, such as Kilmainham and Harold’s Cross, due to rivers and canals bursting their banks. Experts such as Professor John Sweeney of Maynooth University warn that these flood events are set to become more frequent over coming years as sea levels rise and increased amounts of rain falls in short periods of time.

A report released earlier this year listed 24 areas of Dublin as being particularly vulnerable. Minister Simon Harris says Ireland needs to invest €100m a year in flood defences. That will mean more walls like the sort that is currently causing controversy in Clontarf.

Since 2000, an estimated €700m has been paid out by insurance companies over flooding around the country, and that figure is set to rise dramatically as the frequency of floods increases.

Trócaire volunteers stage the UN Climate Summit at Dollymount Strand
Trócaire volunteers stage the UN Climate Summit on Dollymount Strand to highlight the rise in sea levels during 20 years of failed climate negotiations.

 

2. Sustainability

People often view responding to climate change as having negative impacts on their lives but there are many potential positives that can make our cities better places to live.

Transport – along with energy and agriculture - is one of the ‘big three’ sectors that account for Ireland’s greenhouse gas pollution. Reducing the footprint of our transport sector will involve massively investing in public transport, making the city safer for cyclists and encouraging people to live in the city centre where they are less dependent on cars, thus reducing traffic and making our cities more 'people focused'.

This shift in attitudes towards urban life could revitalise huge areas of our cities, bringing people and businesses into currently neglected areas.

3. Responsibility

You often hear people say it: ‘We’re just a small country, nothing we do matters until China, India and America tackle the problem.’

That argument misses the point spectacularly. 

On a per capita basis, we are the 36th highest polluters in the world, higher than China or India. In fact, our emissions are so off the charts that each Irish person emits as much 80 people in sub-Saharan Africa.

If we don’t take responsibility, why should others?

4. Jobs

It is accepted that the world is going to have to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy during the first half of this century. That gives enormous potential for jobs and investment in Ireland.

Ireland currently spends approximately €6bn per year importing fossil fuels, leaving us with one of the highest import dependency levels in the EU. In order to meet EU targets, we are simply going to have to divert increasing amounts of that money into the Irish renewable market.

It is estimated that the renewable energy sector should create 50,000 direct jobs in Ireland, while improving energy efficiency in the residential sector could create 7,000 jobs.

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) last year estimated that the renewable energy sector in Ireland had saved the country €1bn over five years.

People dig for water in a dried up river bed in Kenya

People dig for water in a dried-up river in northern Kenya. Droughts are becoming more frequent and more severe in the region.

5. Because it’s the right thing to do

There are lots of internally focused reasons to care about climate change, but the biggest reason of all is that hundreds of millions of people around the world are suffering its impacts right now.

The damage we see from occasional floods is nothing compared with the chaos being inflicted across Africa, Asia and the Latin America. At the moment, 8.2 million people in Ethiopia and 2.8 million people in Malawi are experiencing severe food shortages due to drought.

This is the brutal reality of rising temperatures and prolonged drought – these are the people we are marching for.  

Sign up for the march in Dublin, Cork and Belfast.

November 26, 2015

The Gift of Water in Malawi

Sitting under a tree to shelter from the relentless sun, Mary speaks about her worries. 

She speaks slowly and softly, choosing her words carefully. 

It’s about the rain, she explains. They don’t get much of it anymore in her village in southern Malawi, and when it doesn’t rain they can’t grow crops. 

The rain used to arrive each November and last until February, but over the last few years it hasn’t come until December, sometimes even January, and when it does come it lasts only a few weeks. 

The fact that we are sheltering under a tree tells its own story: this is supposed to be the rainy season in Malawi but there are bright blue skies and it is almost 40 degrees Celsius. 

This is the practical reality of climate change: farming people in one of Africa’s poorest countries going hungry while they wait for the sky to give them water.

“Climate change has really affected us,” says Mary. “I often wonder what the future will be like for my children. I have so many pressures in my life. Climate change has brought so many problems on us.”

Mary Belo in southern Malawi

Mary Belo (left) and her friend Emily Nota on their drought-affected land in southern Malawi. Almost three million people in Malawi are experiencing food shortages due to the lack of rain. 

 

The lack of water is the single biggest driver of hunger throughout the developing world. As rain patterns change, people like Mary who are reliant on the rain to grow food are facing increasingly long periods of hunger. 

Almost three million people in Malawi are currently experiencing food shortages due to drought. In Ethiopia, the figure is over eight million. 

Trócaire has installed a water pump into Mary’s village. The pump means that the people there have access to clean drinking water all year round, instead of being forced to walk several miles to get dirty water from the local river. 

The pump is a life-line for them. Even during the current drought, they have managed to carry water from the pump to near-by fields, allowing some crops to grow. But the fields far away from the pump stay dry and lifeless. 

“The water pump has really changed our lives,” says Mary. “Before it was installed we had to get all our water from the local river and there were lots of diseases but now we have clean water in the village. It has made a really big difference for us.”

Children at a water pump in southern Malawi

Children using the Trócaire-installed water pump in Mary's village in southern Malawi. "“The water pump has really changed our lives," says Mary.

 

Solving these water crises involves local and global action. 

On the local side, Trócaire can continue to install water pumps and irrigation systems, while also training communities on soil management techniques that retain water most effectively. 

You can support this work by buying the Gift of Water this Christmas. This simple gift will allow us to deliver clean, reliable water to people like Mary who are living through drought. 

On the global level, we need political action to combat climate change. The temperatures in Malawi have risen by almost one degree Celsius since 1960 but under current projections they are expected to rise by up to five, and perhaps even six, degrees by the end of this century. It is difficult to see how anybody could continue to live in villages like Mary’s under such a situation. 

This Sunday, Trócaire and the Stop Climate Chaos coalition will host a series of marches in Dublin, Cork and Belfast calling for political action to address this crisis. 

Join us and add your voice to the calls to make our world safe. 

Buy a Trócaire Gift this Christmas to help families in the developing world. Order online or by phoning 1850 408 408 (ROI) or 0800 912 1200 (NI)​

November 24, 2015

Halting climate change is our duty as Christians

By Bishop William Crean, Bishop of Cloyne and Chair of Trócaire

bishop william crean trocaire
                                                                     
One of the hallmarks of Pope Francis’s Papacy has been his ability to cross religious boundaries. 

Whether commenting on inequality or meeting with groups often excluded from society, his words and actions have resonated meaningfully with believers and non-believers alike.
 
Pope Francis has focused much attention on issues that are universal to us all and has sought to inspire and offer leadership.
 
Environmental care is one such universal issue. His recent encyclical, Laudato Si’, which addressed environmental degradation and the dangers of climate change, was addressed “to every person living on this planet”. 

This was a very deliberate move to highlight the fact that the issues covered in the encyclical – in essence, how human greed threatens to destroy the planet on which we live – are fundamental to us all.
 
The Earth is our shared inheritance. Protecting the Earth is not the duty of any one group. Environmentalism is no longer an issue for environmentalists – it is the rallying cry for anybody who cares about justice, equality and the long-term prospects of life on this planet.
 
The Christian faith tells us that the Earth was created for the benefit of everyone and that our duty is to pass it to the next generation in good health. We are caretakers of the Earth.
 
Christian concern over environmental degradation is therefore twofold: firstly, it is evident that the Earth’s condition is worsening and that we are failing future generations; secondly, this degradation is benefitting a minority of people and punishing the great majority, thus the fruits of our planet are not being used equally.
 
How can we, as Christians, respond to this challenge?  Pope Francis challenges us, first and foremost, to examine our own lives, to live differently so that our planet is not harmed and to ensure that any ecological solution is based on social justice which takes into account the rights of the poor and underprivileged. He also urges us to engage politically with the decisions that affect us all to make our voices heard. 

Climate Change March Poster
 
On November 30th, political leaders from around the world will gather in Paris to debate a response to a climate crisis that is already impacting on tens of millions of people across Africa, Asia and Latin America who are suffering food shortages due to drought, with many more vulnerable to extreme weather in the form of typhoons, storms and flooding. Rising temperatures are playing havoc with our climate, affecting people all over the world.
 
Pope Francis draws our attention to the irreparable impact of unrestrained climate change in many developing countries, where people are both more vulnerable to weather extremes and less able to cope with them. There is now agreement amongst all but a tiny minority that this is real, man-made and urgent. We now need political will to take action that will limit global temperature increases.
 
We need a political breakthrough in Paris next week to begin addressing this injustice. It is essential that the negotiations result in an enforceable agreement that protects our common home and all its inhabitants. An agreement must put the common good ahead of narrow short-term national interests.  After all, in the end, the common good is in the interest of everyone.
 
Rooted in ethics and morals, this agreement should be based on a vision of the world that recognises the need to live in harmony with nature and human solidarity to guarantee the fulfilment of human rights for all.
 
We must decarbonise our society by mid-century in order to protect vulnerable people, including future generations whether they are at risk of flooding in Cork or hunger in Malawi. 

This is not an easy task but it is an urgent one. It will involve developing new models of development and lifestyles that are climate compatible. Central to this is putting to an end the fossil fuel era. We must phase out our reliance on oil and coal, and we must do this by the middle of this century. 
 
We have a moral obligation to rise to this challenge. We must ensure that future generations do not pay a terrible price for our failure to protect this planet.
 
Ireland must play its role in ensuring the Paris Summit produces a legally-binding global agreement, with ambitious mitigation commitments and actions from all countries recognising their common, but differentiated, responsibilities and respective capabilities, based on equity principles, historical responsibilities, and the right to sustainable development.
 
On Sunday, November 29th, on the eve of the Paris Summit, people will gather in Belfast, Cork and Dublin to make their voices – and the voices of those without a voice in this important debate - heard on this issue. 

They will come from a wide range of organisations, backgrounds and beliefs, but they will stand together to say that this is a rallying cry we all must answer.
 
We must reject the language of ‘us’ and ‘them’. We are one human family. This is our one shared home and we are all responsible for keeping it safe.

A shorter version of this article was published in the Rite and Reason column in the Irish Times on Tuesday 24 November 2015.

 
Further reading:

October 30, 2015

Join the People's Climate Change March on November 29

Be part of the biggest climate change event ever!

Climate Change March Poster

 

This December in Paris, world leaders will attempt once more to achieve an agreement on climate change.

And on Sunday November 29, people around the world will march on the streets to make sure they do.

The Stop Climate Chaos coalition will be out in force in Ireland.

Join us on Sunday 29 November at 2pm at:

  • Custom House Quay, Dublin
  • Grand Parade, Cork
  • Writer's Square, Belfast

Put the date in your diary and tell your friends, family, and colleagues.

We want to see you there!

Join the facebook events to get updates:

Dublin March: https://www.facebook.com/events/432542056954797/

Cork March: https://www.facebook.com/events/186029218398256/

Belfast Rally: https://www.facebook.com/events/1067121923313017/

Follow the conversation on twitter: #climatemarch

A Better, Greener Ireland and You

The world’s scientists warn us we are changing the climate in a way that will fundamentally alter life on Earth. We face an unliveable world of floods, rising sea levels, droughts, heatwaves and storms. 

So far we’ve responded with a bizarre mixture of denial and defeatism. But scientists also tell us we have the power to stop this madness (see what they say - www.ipcc.ch)

By addressing climate change we can also create:

  • stronger communities
  • cleaner, safer spaces to live in with less air pollution and traffic
  • homes with cheaper energy bills due to better insulation and renewable sources
  • a healthier nation eating more local produce
  • and safeguard the great natural beauty of our amazing country

There are concrete steps you can take to be part of a better, greener Ireland.

But what’s Ireland got to do with climate change?

Did you know that the average Irish person produces about 12.4 tonnes of greenhouse gases making us one of the highest emitters in Europe per person? And we are on course to increase our greenhouse emissions across the board - in agriculture, transport and energy (see epa.ie).

But isn’t Ireland just a small nation? If we are to avoid catastrophic climate change we all need to reduce our emissions. Ireland has always punched above its weight on the world stage in our contributions to literature, science, the arts and much more. As a role model, we could do the same on combating climate change.

But what can I do as an individual? We thought you’d never ask!

Climate Change March

Give politicians the green light

If we're going to get any political agreement to save our planet, our politicians need to know you’re giving them the green light to take action. Without politicians on board we will not get the major changes we need to our transport, agriculture and energy sectors. Ask for action in Paris.


Sign the Global Catholic Climate Change Movement Petition.

Let your politicians know that this is an issue you care about. Write to An Taoiseach Enda Kenny taoiseach@taoiseach.gov.ie asking him to do all he can to secure strong commitments for emissions reductions in Paris.

Contact your local representatives

Let your politicians know that their action or inaction on environmental issues will influence your vote in the next election. They keep telling us they’re not hearing about climate change as a concern from their constituents. Let them know about the green issues you feel strongly about.

Find your TDs here: oireachtas.ie/parliament/tdssenators
Find your MPs here: writetothem.com

Let us know how you get on contacting your politicians, send us an email at emmet.sheerin@trocaire.org (ROI) and mary.friel@trocaire.org (NI)

Join the fossil divestment movement

If we are to combat climate change we have to challenge the power of the fossil fuel industry, and the vast majority of untapped oil and gas must be left in the ground. Visit gofossilfree.org/europe and join up.

What you can do with your lifestyle

Eat less meat and/or dairy

To avoid climate chaos, all societies will need to embrace a less meat and dairy intensive diet. The beef and dairy we consume produce methane that’s playing a big part in overheating the planet. Meat production also uses unsustainable amounts of water. Try going meat free a few days a week. It’s easier than you might think! See vegetarian.ie for support.

Check out the Better Energy Homes scheme

The oil and gas we use to heat our homes produces a lot of the carbon that causes climate change. Have a look at seai.ie and see if the grants there will help you to afford better insulation in your home, ultimately saving you money on energy bills and reducing your fossil fuel consumption.

If you're looking for more sustainable living ideas, we have them here.

For more info see:

trocaire.org/climatejustice

An Taisce: antaisce.org

Stop Climate Chaos: stopclimatechaos.ie

Friends of the Earth: foe.ie

The Environmental Pillar: environmentalpillar.ie

Grow It Yourself International giyinternational.org

October 09, 2015

Everything you wanted to know about the Climate Bill but were afraid to ask

Why is the Climate Bill back in the news?

The Bill – officially called the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill – is one step closer to being made law after the Dáil voted to approve it on Thursday. The Bill will now go to Seanad Éireann and, provided it is approved by Senators, will then be cleared to be signed into law. 

Why is this important?

The passing of this Bill into law is extremely important because it means that Ireland will, for the first time, have legislation relating to climate change. Once the Bill is passed, work can begin on developing Ireland’s National Low Carbon Transition & Mitigation Plan, which will plot a pathway to turn Ireland into a low carbon society. 

What is Trócaire’s involvement in this?

We have been campaigning for climate legislation for eight years. Much of Trócaire’s work is dealing with the impacts of climate change on communities in the developing world. Many people in the countries we work in are facing increasingly prolonged droughts and extreme weather, making it extremely difficult for them to grow food. 

While Ireland’s contribution to global climate change may be relatively small, we are one of the highest per capita polluters in the world so it is important that we take the steps necessary to play our part in tackling this global challenge. 

Campaigners calling for climate legislation

Campaigners calling for climate legislation outside Dáil Éireann in 2012.

 

So we should be really happy with this Bill?

Well, we’re very happy that the Bill is on the verge of being passed but we would have liked it to be stronger in some areas. Our main concern is that the transition and mitigation plan is not due to be revealed for 18 months after the Bill is passed – in other words, most likely the middle of 2017 - which we believe is too long of a gap. 

On the plus side, the Government has agreed to insert a commitment to climate justice into the Bill, which underlines the fact that Ireland’s responsibility in tackling climate change stems from the need to protect the most vulnerable. 

While we don’t think the Bill is perfect, the important thing is that Ireland will have a platform to begin to take action. 

What happens next?

The Bill goes to Seanad Éireann for debate and will hopefully pass smoothly, allowing it to be passed into law over the coming weeks. Any delay at Seanad stage could cause a problem if the general election is called for before Christmas – if the Dáil term ends before getting to debate Seanad amendments it would not be signed into law before the election. 

Provided it is signed into law, is that the end of Trócaire’s climate change campaign?

Absolutely not! Ireland still has so much work to do. We are not on track to meet our EU emission reduction commitments for 2030 so the National Low Carbon Transition & Mitigation Plan will be absolutely vital. 

Ireland’s commitment to provide new and additional climate finance to assist those in need is still unclear. In line with the principle of climate justice, Ireland must make a strong climate finance commitment to support vulnerable communities in the developing world who are already disproportionately impacted by climate change.

Internationally, the UN Climate Summit in Paris in December is incredibly important. We will be joining the millions of people around the world who are calling for global leaders to take decisive climate action.

What can we do to help?

You can take to the streets of Dublin on November 29th – along with the Stop Climate Chaos network, we are organising a public rally on the eve of the Paris summit to call on politicians to prioritise the future of our planet. Sign-up on the Dublin Climate March and stay informed of our work on climate justice

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