Trócaire Blog

 

April 21, 2016

Trócaire calls on Ireland to withdraw public money from the fossil fuel industry

Trócaire today launched a major new campaign calling on the incoming government to fully divest public money from the fossil fuel industry and to prohibit all future public investments in the industry.
 
Last year Ireland had investments of approximately €72m in the fossil fuel industry through the Irish Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), the successor to the National Pension Reserve Fund.

Trócaire said that it was unacceptable for the government to continue to invest public money into an industry that is driving climate change, leading to drought, hunger and humanitarian crisis in the developing world.

Woman holding climate change sign
 
Trócaire Executive Director Éamonn Meehan said:
 
“There are currently 60 million people across the developing world suffering food shortages due to drought. Irish people have consistently responded to humanitarian emergencies brought about by climate change, but these investments undermine those efforts. By investing in fossil fuel industries, Ireland is funding climate change.
 
“Ireland has committed itself to phasing-out fossil fuels as part of its role in combatting climate change. It makes no sense for the government to continue to invest in the very industry it is committed to phasing-out.
 
“In 2008 the then government enacted legislation to prohibit state investment in the cluster munitions industry on ethical grounds. Given the scale of the climate crisis facing the world, the time has come to do likewise with the fossil fuel industry.
 
“Withdrawing the ISIF investments would be hugely symbolic. Divesting from fossil fuels and prohibiting future investment in the industry would send a powerful message that there is a step change in Ireland toward a more ambitious and coherent policy on climate change.”
 
Today’s launch of The Burning Question campaign, asking people in Ireland whether their money is being used to fund climate change, sees Trócaire join the global divestment campaign calling for an end to investments in the fossil fuel industry. As of March 2016 more than 500 institutions around the world, with an approximate value of $3.4 trillion, have committed to divestment from fossil fuels.
 
Éamonn Meehan called on Irish institutions, organisations and companies to join the global divestment movement:
 
“Climate change is the biggest crisis of our time and compounds poverty in the developing world. Every day, Trócaire responds to the impacts of climate change in some of the poorest communities in the world. These people have done nothing to cause the problem and yet they are suffering the most through droughts, floods and storms made worse by climate change.
 
“The UN Paris Agreement adopted last December commits governments around the world to limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, but we know that this is not possible on current emissions levels. We need a rapid increase in ambition and action in order to meet international targets and save the world’s poorest people from even more extreme effects.
 
“The current refugee crisis will only grow into the future if we stand back and allow huge swathes of land become essentially uninhabitable and continue to make people even more vulnerable to extreme weather. The global divestment movement is demanding more ambition from political leaders. We are calling on Irish people to make this a political issue and to demand that TDs refuse to accept continued Irish investment in an industry that is destroying the planet.”

Additional notes:

1. The Irish Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), the successor to the National Pension Reserve Fund, is an investment vehicle of the Irish Government funded by tax payer money. According to its most recent Annual Report, the ISIF had investments in some of the world’s most controversial fossil fuel companies, to a value of €72million.
 
2. The ISIF has invested in some of the planet’s worst climate offenders. Particularly concerning are investments in TransCanada, the company behind the controversial Keystone XL pipe in the US that was vetoed by President Obama, and Peabody Energy, a coal company which refers to climate change as ‘a non-existent harm’.
 
3. The UN Paris Agreement will be signed in New York on Friday, April 22nd. This Agreement commits governments around the world to decarbonisation, limiting global warming to well below two degrees Celsius, while pursuing a more ambitious limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius.
 
4. The White Paper 'Ireland's Transition to a Low Carbon Energy Future 2015-2030', launched in December 2015, commits Ireland to achieving 80-95% decarbonisation by 2050 and full decarbonisation by the end of the century.
 
5. Trócaire works in over 20 countries throughout the developing world, including some of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. This includes Honduras, Malawi, Ethiopia, Pakistan and Guatemala.
 
6. For further information please visit www.trocaire.org/burningquestion

March 21, 2016

An oasis in the desert: Greenhouses transform drought-stricken community in Kenya

By Catherine M Waking’a, Trócaire East Africa

Turkana County is an arid area in north-west Kenya which has experienced significant drought in recent years due to climate change. 

Most of the people living there are pastoralists, relying on livestock for survival, who have to trek long distances in search of water and pasture. 

Following the devastating drought in East Africa in 2011, Trócaire established a recovery project with funding from Irish Aid, Caritas New Zealand and St Vincent de Paul in the areas of Turkwell and Turkana Central. 

The project aimed to reduce the need for humanitarian assistance in the area, by increasing resilience to climate change and improving livelihoods. 

In Turkwell, five greenhouses were established, supporting 50 households. The target group was comprised of vulnerable pastoral and agro-pastoral community members whose livestock and livelihoods were severely affected by drought in 2011. 

Greenhouses in Turkana

The project has also provided communities with safe water for consumption, through the construction of shallow wells and safe water storage tanks. 

The water from the shallow wells is used for human consumption by households that used to travel long distances to collect water and at times had to consume unclean, unsafe water from the Turkwell River. 

The greenhouse project faced some initial challenges, with traditional communities learning completely new ways of farming and cooperative working. 

The Diocese of Lodwar, with funding from the UK Department for International Development (DFID), conducted several complementary trainings on soil management, fertility, crop management, marketing and savings, seed distribution, and has supported farmers to manage the greenhouse committees in the most effective way. 

The greenhouse farmers now focus on growing high-value crops like spinach, tomatoes, capsicum, kales, eggplants and various vegetables consumed in homes across Turkwell. 

Some of the crops produced in the greenhouses are sold in nearby markets and these proceeds buy additional food for the community. 

Esther Aboi, a farmer in the project, says the greenhouses greatly contributed to improved livelihoods and says that community members now have food and consistent income.

She says: “We don’t go to sleep hungry and depend on wild fruits like we have done before”.

Esther Eboi and Napei Timat Longoli

Caption: Esther Eboi and Napei Timat Longoli tend to tomatoes in their greenhouse in Turkwell, Turkana County

The farmers are optimistic that with additional training on greenhouse farming they will continue to increase their crop yield. They are also working with the Diocese of Lodwar to improve their access to markets to sell their produce. 

Esther Aboi: “If we can access better markets and increase sales we will educate our children and change the face of Turkana County. We are encouraging more farmers to form groups and benefit from similar initiatives which help eradicate the culture of dependency.”

Now, the farmers are looking forward to exchange visits and study tours on greenhouse farming – to foster inter-community learning and motivation. 

Please donate to this year's Lent campaign, and make a real difference in people's lives.

March 11, 2016

Call on the new Irish Government to take #ClimateActionNow

Demand #ClimateActionNow! Sign up to the thunderclap today:

https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/38869-climateactionnow?locale=en

Climate Action Now

A new Dáil has just been elected and a new Irish Government is being formed. 

There is no time to lose: we need to call on them to take urgent action on climate change!

Join our social media campaign doing just that.

Targeting newly elected politicians, we’re asking students in post-primary schools, teachers and other Trócaire supporters and campaigners to get involved in our #ClimateActionNow action on Thunderclap.

Thunderclap is a social media platform that helps people be heard by saying something together. 

It allows a single message to be mass-shared, flashmob-style, so it rises above the noise of your social networks. 

Check it out: www.thunderclap.it

Thunderclap will share the #ClimateActionNow message with social media networks on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr for everyone who signs up. 

We are louder together so let’s make some noise!

The message that will go out across Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr is: 

“Now is the time for the Irish Government to move towards a low carbon economy and renewable energy #ClimateActionNow”

The link to our Thunderclap is now live and you can sign up here:

https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/38869-climateactionnow?locale=en

To allow people time to share this link and to get as many people as possible to sign up, the Thunderclap will go out on social media on Wednesday the 20th of April.

Once the #ClimateActionNow message goes out, Trócaire will directly tweet newly elected politicians to let them know what 100s of young people and Trócaire supporters across Ireland are saying!

Our aim is to get #ClimateActionNow to trend across social media and to make action for climate justice a priority for Government. 

This is a unique opportunity to be part of a campaign for climate justice with Trócaire and to be heard by those in decision-making positions by coming together with a loud clear voice for change! 

February 12, 2016

Degrees of separation in rural Kenya

Climate change is leading to significant migration in Kenya, dividing loved-ones and driving families apart. Meet Teresina, whose husband Julius has been forced to move hundred of miles away to earn an income to keep his children in school.

It’s said that absence makes the heart grow fonder. As couples around the world look forward to celebrating Valentine’s Day, Teresina Karimi from Kenya dreams of being with her husband, who lives hundreds of miles away.

Teresina (45) with her youngest son Amos outside their home in Tharaka Nithi

Caption: Teresina (45) with her son Amos (11) outside their home in Tharaka Nithi​

“I miss him but there are no options here. There is nothing else that we can do,” Teresina Karimi (45) says, sheltering under the rim of her thatched roof. The burning sun has come out in the lowlands of Mount Kenya and Teresina points to her patchy crop of vegetables, which is drying up and turning yellow.

A year ago, Teresina’s husband, Julius, moved permanently to live and work on a large commercial farm, three hours away. Year after year, they watched drought attack their land, their soil becoming lifeless and their crops parched and limp. Migrating was the only possible way to put the last two of their five children through school.

Teresina (45) farms her land during drought in Tharaka Nithi, Kenya

Caption: Teresina (45) farms her land during drought in Tharaka Nithi, Kenya

Teresina has known Julius since they played together as children. Years later, when Julius moved away, they wrote to each other. Now, because of climate change, they are apart once more.

 “Up to 80% of families in this region do not have enough food,” says Abraham Maruta, Deputy Director of Trócaire's partner Caritas in Meru Diocese, which is developing irrigation systems for poor families with Trócaire support. 

“When crops fail, people sell what they have, animals, land and any other assets to get cash, until eventually they have nothing to fall back on and a member of the family has to migrate.”

Teresina Karini (45) farms her drought-prone land in Tharaka Nithi

Caption: Teresina in her village in Tharaka Nithi

Teresina finds support from a local women’s group, which comes together to help each other save money, cultivate each other’s land and tender for casual work like construction. “It’s hard on your own,” says group treasurer, Helen Kende. “But when you come together you can help each other plan. Our greatest desire is to get the children through school.” 

Teresina Karini (45) collects water from the river in Tharaka Nithi. Her family will drink this water and use it for washing.

Caption: Teresina collects water from the river in Tharaka Nithi. Her family will drink this water and use it for washing

Julius comes home every three months for three days at a time. “The kids run to him and embrace him because it has been so long since they last saw him, Teresina says. "I feel sad when he leaves but I can’t prevent it because if we both stay at home, the kids will not be able to go to school.”

The only thing that could unite Teresina and Julius for good is water. “I would like to see irrigation on my land. If I had irrigation, I could plant more crops and harvest.” Maybe then Julius could come home and they could farm together again on the land on which they met.

Teresina Karini (45) outside her home in Tharaka Nithi

Caption: Teresina and a neighbour outside her home in Tharaka Nithi

Trócaire is helping families in Kenya to return to their land and grow food with irrigation schemes that water crops all year round.

Please support our work in Kenya this Lent.

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.

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