Trócaire Blog

 

November 22, 2016

Trócaire and NGO partners organise north and south climate action lobby events

Lobby events held in Dublin and Belfast to coincide with the COP22 climate talks in Marrakesh, where diplomats gather to discuss the implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate action. 

Stormont Climate Lobby Event November 2016

Activists gather outside Stormont Castle before lobby event. Photo: Justin Kernoghan

At a joint event at Stormont on Monday 14 November organised by Trócaire, Christian Aid and Friends of the Earth, members of the public met their MLAs and local representatives to urge them to support a Stormont Climate Change Bill. 

Northern Ireland is the poorest performing region of the UK when it comes to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, and is being left behind by other parts of these islands such as Scotland & the Republic of Ireland who have Climate Acts. Climate action is long overdue and urgently needed.

The Stormont lobby took place at a critical time as the Northern Ireland Programme for Government is still being discussed and decided upon. The Programme sets out the region's priorities and direction for the next five years, so it's vital that there are strong climate targets in the Programme for Government. 

Chris Lyttle MLA with East Belfast constituents

Chris Lyttle MLA with East Belfast constituents. Photo: Justin Kernoghan

Every constituency in Northern Ireland was represented at the event, and activist groups including the Clogher Peace and Justice Group, the Armagh Trócaire Ambassadors, and the newly founded Queen’s University Belfast Trócaire society attended, alongside volunteers and supporters from Trócaire, Christian Aid and Friends of the Earth. 

The event was the largest ever climate lobby in Northern Ireland with approximately 100 people in attendance who met with representatives from all the main political parties, with the exception of the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV).

The next day in Dublin (Tuesday 15 November), 150 constituents met with TDs and Senators from across the party and independent spectrum to push for stronger action on climate change from the Irish Government.

Declan Breathnach, FF TD, Louth, Kate Ruddock, Friends of the Earth, Selina Donnelly, Trócaire at Stop Climate Chaos lobbying event, Buswells, Dublin, Nov 15, 2016.

Declan Breathnach, Fianna Fail TD for Louth; Kate Ruddock, Friends of the Earth; and Selina Donnelly, Trócaire at Stop Climate Chaos lobbying event, Buswells Hotel, Dublin, 15 November. Photo: Alan Whelan

The Government is soon set to publish a draft National Mitigation Plan, the first of its kind under the new Climate Act. This critical document will determine the level of ambition for meeting Ireland’s obligations under the Paris Agreement.  

Nearly 100 politicians attended the Dublin event organised by Stop Climate Chaos, including Government Chief Whip, Regina Doherty, Micheál Martin, Hildegarde Naughton (Chair of the Oireachtas Committee), and Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten's, special adviser. 

Seán Sherlock (Labour) speaks to constituents at lobby event in Buswell's hotel, Dublin

Labour TD Seán Sherlock speaks to constituents. Photo: Alan Whelan

They were asked to support the following:

1. Enabling community ownership of renewable energy;
2. Divesting taxpayers’ money from fossil fuels;
3. Achieving the goals of the Smarter Travel Policy.

And nearly half the politicians who attended signed letters to Ministers Naughten, Michael Noonan (Finance) and Shane Ross (Transport) calling on them to deliver on these demands. 

Take action

Use our online lobby tools to call on your MLA or TD to take action on climate change.

November 08, 2016

Dear Stormont: we need to talk about climate change

By Mary Friel, Campaigns Officer, Trócaire Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland lags behind other regions in reducing carbon emissions, and has yet to pass a local Climate Law. As world leaders gather in Marrakech to progress the commitments of last year’s historic Paris Climate Agreement, Trócaire, Christian Aid and Friends of the Earth are holding a lobby event at Stormont to call on all MLAs to take urgent action on climate change.

mla heads in sand

At the lobby event at the Northern Ireland Assembly on Monday 14 November we will push MLAs for much-needed action on three areas:

1. Set strong climate targets in the Programme for Government
2. Develop a local Climate Change Act
3. 100% clean energy within a generation

The Paris Agreement commits to: “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels”. 

The Paris Agreement text emphasises the “emissions gap” between the temperature goal and the pledges that countries have made so far. Independent analysis by Climate Action Tracker concludes that current policies put us on track for global warming of 3.6°C while current pledges, if they were all delivered on time, would only limit warming to 2.7°C.

All existing targets and timelines for emission reductions therefore need to be re-evaluated.

When it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Northern Ireland is the lowest performing region in the UK. 

In total, the UK has reduced emissions by 36% (between the base year 1990 and 2014).

England and Scotland are the highest performing regions with reduced emissions by 38% and 41%. But Wales and Northern Ireland reduced emissions by only 18% and 17% respectively. 

While this year in Northern Ireland we did see a decrease in carbon emissions by 3% on the year prior, the long-term emission reductions trend reveals how much more work we need to do to get serious about climate action to align with the ambition in the Paris Agreement.

We need climate action now to do our fair share to protect the livelihoods of the poorest and most vulnerable people and communities in the world, many of whom are already feeling the devastating impacts of climate change, through increased droughts and floods which is driving hunger and poverty.

Join us for the big climate change lobby at Stormont 

To join us, all you have to do is register to attend the event and send an email asking your MLAs to meet you there.

When: Monday 14th November 2016, 4pm – 7pm 
Where: Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast  

Register to attend event on Eventbrite 

For more information on the key asks, you can read our short two-page briefing paper

If you have any questions about the lobby please contact Mary Friel: [email protected].

Supporters in the Republic of Ireland can join the Stop Climate Chaos lobby event taking place in Dublin on Tuesday, 15 November. 

September 13, 2016

September is Creation month

September is Creation month. It’s a month to respond to Pope Francis’ call for a new way of being, free from the slavery of consumerism and asks that we take good care of Creation, protecting and preserving it for future generations.

In a special video message, Pope Francis highlights the link between poverty and the fragility of the planet

In his landmark encyclical of the same name – ‘Laudato Si, Care for our Common Home’, Pope Francis discusses the grave implications of climate change, one of the most pressing challenges of our time.  

Climate change is having a devastating impact on people in the world’s poorest regions. 

Right now, there are 60 million people around the world experiencing extreme food shortages due to drought. 

This is just the latest example of the increasingly severe impacts of climate change being visited on the women and men in developing countries, a problem created not by them but primarily by consumption and production in rich countries. 

In Laudato Si, Pope Francis highlights the need for lifestyle changes in response to climate change. 

Importantly however, he also emphasises the need for structural changes including the urgent, progressive replacement of fossil fuels and other highly polluting technologies that are major contributors to climate change.  

Pope Francis’ calls to action are at the heart of Trócaire’s climate justice campaigning.  Earlier this year Trócaire joined a movement of more than 500 institutions, with a collective value of around $3.4 trillion across the world committing publically to take their money out of the fossil fuel industry.  

This global fossil fuel divestment movement is capturing the imagination of a diverse range of people from student activists to religious congregations to financiers.  

In a few short years the movement has become the fastest growing divestment campaign in history. 

Divestment has been a tool for social justice campaigning for decades and was a notable strategy employed by people and organisations in efforts to isolate the apartheid regime in South Africa.  

A public commitment to move your money out of fossil fuels – the problem, and into just and accessible renewable energy solutions, is a highly symbolic action.  It sends a clear message to society and importantly to political decision-makers – that the fossil fuel era must end.  

Trócaire’s campaign calls on the Government to divest the Irish Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), formerly the National Pension Reserve Fund, from fossil fuels, and to adopt a 100% renewable energy investment policy instead.

Successive Irish Governments have stated deep concern about the urgent threat of climate change, and yet have persistently failed to act in line with Ireland’s international obligations. 

Ireland’s Green House Gas emissions per person remain one of the highest among industrialised countries. 

To add insult to injury, the Irish government continues to invest public money, via the ISIF, into fossil fuel companies that are directly responsible for the problem.  

The irony is that many financial experts are highlighting that fossil fuel companies are performing poorly and are an increasingly risky investment. 

This Government must divest the ISIF of all fossil fuel investments as part of a substantive and symbolic step change in climate action in Ireland.  

Trócaire itself has committed to divesting its staff pension fund from fossil fuels.  Any divestment commitment requires some time and persistence to deliver. In many cases, and indeed in Trócaire’s experience, this involves engaging with those currently managing your funds to ensure they will support you to achieve this.   

The efforts needed to deliver on a divestment commitment are no reason to shy away from making one.  Indeed, they are part and parcel of the transformative conversations, decisions and actions that are needed to respond to Pope Francis’ call for us to create an entirely new way of being.  

In his reflections on climate change, Pope Francis describes the weakness of political responses to date as ‘remarkable’, and the need for pressure from the public and civic institutions in order to challenge the entrenched mindset of short-term gain and results which dominates present-day economics and politics. 

Pope Francis describes every act of purchase as ‘a moral – and not simply economic – act’.  

As we respond to the Pope’s plea for this Creation Time in various ways, we invite reflection on how we spend and invest our money, and how it is invested on our behalf by our Government.  

By pursuing one’s own divestment and or supporting Trócaire’s campaign calling on the Government to divest the ISIF, everyone can play a part in creating a new way of being, one that is both just and sustainable. 

August 22, 2016

5 fossil fuel myths busted

By Antoin McDermott

5 fossil fuel myths

Carbon emissions released from the fossil fuels we use are a leading cause of the global temperature rise causing climate change. 

Climate change is already causing devastation across the globe, with escalating storms, floods and drought hitting the most vulnerable communities. 

80% of known fossil fuels reserves must stay in the ground if we are to have a chance of avoiding the worst effects of climate change. 

So we need to know how we can quit these fossil fuels that we are addicted to. 

Here are some of the main myths surrounding fossil fuels that are slowing our transition away from them...

Myth 1: We need fossil fuels or civilization will collapse. We all use them and we can’t just stop using them. 

Although we can transition to a world of 100% renewables and zero carbon, we do need fossil fuels today for society to function and to fuel the transition; however, our reliance on them needs to decrease dramatically and soon. 

This is not happening. Fossil fuel consumption is increasing. The increase in consumption of fossil fuels was 2.6 times the increase in renewables in 2015. 

Even though we know we can only burn one fifth of fossil fuel reserves, fossil fuel companies are still exploring for more. 

One of the best ways to stop this is to cease investing in the companies that want to increase fossil fuel use in order to make money. 

When massive investments are made in fossil fuel companies, they receive large subsidies from governments, and they have powerful lobbyers, it makes it difficult for alternatives to become more widely available and competitive. 

A world free from fossil fuel use will only come about when fossil fuel companies have less power. 

‘Divestment’ is one way to take that power away. 

Myth 2. Moving my investments out of fossil fuels won’t really have any effect. Others will invest in the fossil fuels if I don’t.

It’s true that others could invest in the fossil fuels shares you divest from, but, if divestment spreads, less will do so. 

More than 500 institutions, with a value of over $3 trillion, have already committed to divest from fossil fuels within five years.

As more and more people and institutions divest it creates a stigma around fossil fuel companies. 

It undermines their influence and makes it more difficult for governments to justify their subsidies. 

It also highlights the fact that fossil fuels are increasingly a bad and risky investment. 

Both, the Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, and the head of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, have recently both warned of this. 

Divestment is therefore a very effective way of fighting climate change and reducing risk in investments.

Myth 3. It's better to use the power of being a shareholder to change the fossil fuel companies.

It would be very difficult to convince a fossil fuel company to effectively put itself out of business by not selling its product. 

The renowned British environmentalist, Jonathan Porritt, tried to engage with fossil fuels companies for years and found that it was a waste of time

Anything that helps fossil fuel companies reduce their sale of fossil fuels is worth attempting, but divestment from the companies themselves is much more effective.

Myth 4. There are a lot of jobs in fossil fuels, it wouldn’t be fair to get rid of these.

Transitioning to renewable energy will create a large number of new jobs. 

The trade union Sustainlabour predicts that Europe alone could gain 6.1 million new jobs by 2050 from going 100% renewable. 

8 million people were employed in the renewable sector across the globe last year. 

While research claims we could create 100,000 jobs in Ireland by transitioning to 100% renewables

There has also been considerable employment in developing countries. This is not to say that jobs in the fossil fuel industries would not be lost. 

Therefore, it is vital that the right approach is taken to ensure the transition is as smooth and as just as possible. 

Much of the technical and managerial work that is needed for the fossil fuel industries are similar to that needed for renewables. 

Reskilling and retraining programmes are also essential. The key would be to start making this transition now so that the right time is given for this to happen. There also needs to be more jobs made available in renewables. Investing in renewables and not fossil fuel companies can allow this to happen.

Myth 5. Fossil fuels are needed by developing countries to develop.

The transition away from fossil fuels must be a just transition domestically and globally and there cannot be unintended impacts on the rights and resilience of vulnerable communities. 

Allowing developing countries as much of the remaining ‘carbon budget’ as possible and the means to transition to renewables, in order to enable their development, is central to climate justice. 

The citizens of developing countries with fossil fuel reserves seldom benefit from the extraction and sales of these fossil fuels. Fossil fuel investments have not delivered access to energy for the people living with extreme poverty.

The impact that climate change is having on the rights and dignity of women and men living in poverty is what has brought Trócaire to the issue of fossil fuels. 

Sign Trócaire's petition to stop the Irish government using the public’s money to invest in fossil fuels

You can also talk to your financial provider to see what fossil-free investment options are available for you. If there are no options available, ask them to make sensible fossil-free investments available now. 

July 27, 2016

Mary Robinson visits families hit by El Nino drought in Honduras

Mary Robinson arrives in Honduras today, where she will visit Trócaire projects that are helping families overcome the disastrous impacts of the El Nino drought. 

Honduras is the most vulnerable country in the world to the effects of climate change. There are currently over 1.3 million people in the country at risk of food shortages due to drought. 

Between 1980 and 2014, Honduras was affected by more than 50 natural disasters, resulting in 15,548 deaths. Annual economic losses due to climatic events are estimated at US$667 million (2.6% of GDP).

Mrs. Robinson is visiting Honduras as part of her role as UN Special Envoy for Climate Change and El Nino.

Thanks to the support of people all over Ireland, Trócaire is currently providing emergency support to 7,500 families - approximately 40,000 people - in Honduras. Our support targets the most vulnerable through food distribution, provision of seeds, irrigation and other methods aimed at improving food production and nutrition in the face of the drought.

Mrs. Robinson will meet with families in the Pespire region, where many young people have been forced to migrate because of the ongoing impacts of climate change. 

Over 85 per cent of the population rely on agriculture but the majority of farmers earn less than €400 a year. As droughts, storms and other extreme weather events continue to become more frequent, many young people are moving to cities or to the United States to earn a living. 

Farmers in Pespire say that climate has changed in the last 30 years. Temperatures are much higher during the day, it is raining less often and when it rains the amount of water that falls in a short period of time is high. Maize yields have dropped to less than 40% of the average yields in Honduras. 

As a result of the scarcity of available food, prices have gone up, especially maize and beans. At the moment the price of maize has increased in Pespire by 70%. 

The situation is tense and conflicts erupt because of water scarcity. In some communities there is hardly any water left for human consumption and in most places rivers and streams are too dry to be used for irrigation. 

This is a situation facing growing numbers of people in Central America. The humanitarian situation along Central America’s Dry Corridor has reached crisis levels, with more than 3.5 million people facing food insecurity in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. 

Guatemala and Honduras have been the most affected. As a result, 2.8 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, including food, health care, and activities to recover livelihoods and increase resilience. 

Mary Robinson last month visited Trócaire projects in northern Ethiopia, where people are experiencing food shortages due to the same El Nino drought that is impacting Honduras. 

Mary Robinson in Ethiopia with Trocaire

Mary Robinson visits a Trócaire project in Tigray, northern Ethiopia, earlier this month.

 

She visited one project in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia where Trócaire has been working with the local community to protect them against extreme droughts. 

By building irrigation and improving water management, Trócaire is helping to ensure people have access to water even when the rains fail. 

Globally, 60 million people have been impacted by the El Nino drought crisis but Ethiopia has been worst affected. Ten million people in Ethiopia are facing food shortages because of the drought. Thanks to the generous support of people in Ireland, Trócaire is supporting 600,000 people in Ethiopia with emergency relief. 

We are also responding in Honduras, Guatemala, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe. 

These relief efforts are the incredible result of people in Ireland supporting vulnerable people overseas in this time of crisis. 

You can donate to the emergency appeal and give support to people who urgently need it. 

July 18, 2016

The movement to stop burning fossil fuels

By Antoin McDermott

Trócaire’s ‘The Burning Question’ campaign is part of a global movement of organisations and individuals who are demanding an end to the fossil fuel era and a faster move to a cleaner, more sustainable future. 

global divestment figures

View full infographic

Everyday, Trócaire staff working in developing countries see the devastating effects of climate change, which is driven to a large extent by the burning of fossil fuels in more developed countries.

They are witnessing increases in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events like droughts and floods, the loss of crops and livelihoods, and the increasing threat of hunger and malnutrition. 

So where did this movement to end the fossil fuel era start, how big is it and how successful has it been so far?

The birth of a movement

The movement originated in 2012 from a climate action organisation based in the US called 350.org

One of its founders, Bill McKibben realised that a campaign was needed to break the bond that had developed between fossil fuel companies and politicians as it was preventing political action on climate change. 

He saw that by campaigning against investments in fossil fuel companies, a stigmatisation of these companies’ practices would arise, making it hard for politicians to support them. 

The campaign really took off when McKibben published an article for Rolling Stone magazine called ‘Do The Math’ in which he explained how 80% of known fossil fuel reserves would need to stay in the ground in order to prevent the worse effects of climate change. 

He explained that to ensure that the fossil fuels remain in the ground we have to stop investing in the companies taking them out. The article went viral online.

The movement catches fire

McKibben took ‘Do The Math’ on tour like a rock band would, with strobe lights, musicians and celebrities. 

He called on the crowds to start what had been named ‘divestment’ campaigns after the successful anti-apartheid divestment campaign in the 80s. 

He asked them to push their colleges, churches, charities, and pension funds to stop investing in the top oil and coal companies. 

The impact was immediate. In just three days after the tour started Vermont College announced it would divest. 

By the end of November 2012, one hundred divestment campaigns had started. 

And by the end of 2014, that number had become more than a thousand. 

The campaign took off in the UK under the ‘Fossil Free’ banner in 2013. It has now become the fastest growing divestment campaign in history.

Big wins

There have been a number of big wins in this global campaign:

  • In September 2014, the heirs to the Rockerfeller withdrew all the fossil fuel investment in the $860 million Rockerfeller Brothers Fund.
  • Syracuse University committed in April 2015 to divest its $1.18bn endowment and to seek new investments in clean energy technologies.
  • In the same month, the Guardian Media Group divested its £800m fund.
  • In May 2016, the District of Columbia government in Washington D.C. announced that its $6.4 billion pension fund has fully divested from its direct investments in 200 of the world’s most polluting fossil fuel companies.

Notable supporters

The campaign also has a number of notable endorsers including former president of Ireland and UN envoy on climate and El Nino Mary Robinson, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Naomi Klein, Ban Ki-moon, Barack Obama, Al Gore, 
actor Leonardo Di Caprio, actor and comedian Russell Brand, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, and actor Tilda Swinton.

Where is it today?

Today, the approximate value of the institutions divested from fuels is $3.4 trillion, with well over 500 institutions in total divesting. 50,000 individuals have also divested about $5.2 billion.

Jamie Henn of 350.org recently said that “when we started fanning the divestment flames we had no idea what a wildfire would quickly spread around the world. People instantly understood the power of challenging institutions to put their money where their mouths are.”

You can be part of the movement

In Ireland campaigns to divest are happening in a number of colleges and other institutions with some successes, but what would give a really big boost to the campaign would be if the Irish government was to divest its investments in fossil fuels. This is Trocaire’s campaign. Sign up to our petition here.

July 08, 2016

Five powerful quotes on climate change from Mary Robinson

Former President Mary Robinson was in Ethiopia this week to bring urgent attention to the food crisis affecting millions of people in East and Southern Africa.

She visited projects funded by Trócaire to bring emergency food, seeds, water and sanitation to people suffering hunger due to drought, which has been fuelled by climate change and El Niño. 
    
                Mary Robinson at a Trócaire project in northern Ethiopia that is delivering emergency aid and irrigation.

Mary Robinson at a Trócaire project in Adigrat, northern Ethiopia, which is delivering emergency aid to 30,000 people and irrigation systems to protect against future drought. (Photo: Eoghan Rice / Trócaire)

The current U.N Special Envoy for El Niño and Climate has made strong statements to bring focus to this serious humanitarian emergency. 

As a passionate campaigner for climate justice, she has spoken out on behalf of those whose voices are not being heard. 

Five powerful climate change statements from Mary Robinson – an inspiring humanitarian leader 

1. “Now, because of climate change, it has become so bad. And it really is bad…it is bad here in Ethiopia, where they do good climate work, where they cope well with climate and they're used to it.

"Yet they now have 10.3 million additional people who are malnourished and could suffer very badly before the end of this year…

"It brings home to us that we must cut emissions very fast. Ireland must become more of a leader in understanding the importance of renewable energy.” Newstalk, Pat Kenny Show, July 2016 from Ethiopia. 

2. “I don’t think the impact of El Niño, aggravated by climate change, has received the attention that it should have from the international community.” July 2016 from Ethiopia

3. “We shouldn’t underestimate the scale and the transformative nature of the change, which will be needed. We have to go to zero carbon emissions by about 2050 if we are going to stay below 2C of warming and that means that we have to leave about 2/3 of the known resources of fossil fuels in the ground.” Ted Talk, May 2015

4. “We have a responsibility to move in the direction that Paris has given us – well below 2C as far as possible to 1.5C – a world that leaves no one behind. A world that is fair and inclusive … We can do it. And we will have a much better and more equal world if we do.”  The Guardian, 16 March 2016

5. “Climate change is a fundamental problem that we must solve and not merely pass on to the generations to come…We can’t let our children and grandchildren look back on this critical period in time and say that we failed them.” Trócaire conference: Meeting the challenges of climate change – from evidence to action, Maynooth University, St Patricks College, Maynooth, June 2015


Trócaire's Burning Question Campaign

Burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas is a major cause of climate change, leading to drought and hunger. We must move to cleaner renewable energy to protect the poorest people from more drought and suffering. Trócaire is asking the Irish Government to stop investing in fossil fuels. Find out about our campaign.

June 16, 2016

2016 must be Ireland's year for climate action

By Joanne McGarry, Campaigns Officer

It’s time for Ireland to take action and keep its promises on climate change.

While Ireland signed up to the global Paris Accord on climate change and finally enacted a Climate Law for the country in December 2015 – tangible, concrete action has yet to be taken.

Earlier this year, Trócaire launched The Burning Question campaign calling on TDs to address the inadequacy and incoherence of Ireland’s response to climate change to date.

Woman holding climate change sign

 

Ireland’s investments in some of the world’s most polluting fossil fuel companies through the Irish Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) for example, are completely at odds with its commitments to become a decarbonised society which plays its part in addressing the climate change crisis.
 
Following lobbying from Trócaire and its Burning Question campaigners, our TDs looked into the issue of Ireland’s investments in the fossil fuel industry, and they responded to us.
 
We’ve heard that the government’s existing fossil fuel investments will be sold ‘over time’, which is good to know.  

But there is no clear commitment as to when this will happen, and there is no guarantee that the government won’t re-invest in these or other fossil fuel companies in the future - so we have to keep the pressure on!
 
We are now asking supporters to sign a petition telling the Irish Government to stop investing in fossil fuels.  

This petition will be handed to the Minister for Finance, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, and Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment who are responsible for the investments Ireland makes and in which industries they are made.
 
This is our chance to ensure the government cannot invest in fossil fuel companies in the future. 

Please sign our petition

June 09, 2016

Answering the call of Laudato Sí: one year on

Pope Francis' encyclical on climate change

This week we are celebrating the first anniversary of the ground-breaking papal encyclical Laudato Sí, published on the 18 June 2015.  

In the encyclical, which is now an integral part of Catholic Social Teaching (CST), Pope Francis called on everyone across the world, not just Catholics, to stand up and take action on the destruction of the environment and the worsening and unjust impacts climate change.  

“At all levels, a change of mindset is needed.  It is the same mindset that is needed to tackle both climate change and world poverty.”(Laudato Sí 175)

What you can do

Climate change is an urgent crisis which requires action from all of us, on behalf of the world’s poorest.

Trócaire is inviting parishes and communities to take this opportunity to take action to mark the anniversary of Laudato Sí from the 13 to the 19 June.  

Here’s some suggested activities: 

Quote from Pope Francis: We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels [...] needs to be progressively replaced without delay.

June 02, 2016

Disaster preparedness in the bordos of San Pedro Sula, Honduras

By Santiago Agra Bermejo

Teresita sells corn tortillas for a living in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. 

But this tiny woman is not just a street vendor, she is a community leader trained to respond to natural disasters. 

Teresita lives in Gavión, one of the bordos of the city. These are illegal, impoverished settlements built over the earth dam erected to protect the city from flooding. 

Three members of bordo Gavión emergency committee. Teresita is in the middle.

Three members of bordo Gavión emergency committee. Teresita is in the middle. 

People without anywhere else to go, like Teresita in 2002, build shanty houses in areas prone to floods, landslides and now earthquakes. 

There is no sanitation, and fires from illegal energy connections are common. The maras, Central American violent gangs, control the neighbourhoods. 

Life here is tough, and climate change will only worsen it. 

But now 10 of these communities of San Pedro Sula and Choloma, including Teresita's Gavión, have their own trained local emergency committees (CODEL). 

More than 36,000 people have benefited from a Trócaire project co-funded by the European Commission and Irish Aid.  

The Mennonite Social Action Commission  (CASM), the NGO Association (ASONOG), along with the Honduras Association of Factories, trained local people how to respond in case of emergency. 

Emergency committee members of Bordo Bográn.

Emergency committee members of Bordo Bográn.

Around 4000 workers have also benefited from the project. Factory employees can address emergencies in crowded environments, and they know how to protect each other. 

The companies have also pledged to support communities in this task and to reinforce the local and national emergency system. 

"Before the project, it was every man for himself" remembers Doña Santos, who has been living in the Dixie bordo for almost 15 years. 

"But now we know what to do, we can help people", Teresita says. She is in charge of keeping larders and distributing food to people affected by emergencies. 

“People recognise us as somebody able to help, they look to us because we are trained", Eli Mercedes, from Bográn bordo, adds while she tries to study for the final exam of her disaster risk management course. 

"Now we know how to put out fires", a proud Claudia from Bográn states. Firefighters can't access the bordos, so the neighbours are by themselves. 

"The other day I witnessed an accident, and I was able to give first aid and call the ambulance", tells Dalsia, a mother of three from Dixie that earns a living recycling rubbish. Many of the CODEL leaders are women, as they represent the majority of the bordos population. 

"Men don't like to accept women's orders, but here they are pretty submissive!" Teresita says, trying not to laugh.  

People from the bordos also deal with violence, high HIV rates and stigmatisation. Inhabitants of these areas are usually discriminated against when applying for jobs and have a very low self-esteem.

This project has also helped participants to grow personally. "I have overcome my fears, and I don't feel vulnerable anymore, now I have my little business, and I have plans for the future", says Melkin, a new leader of the Bográn community who benefited from leadership training. 

"I want to be a psychologist," says Claudia.  "I would love to study business management", Wendy, one of the youngest CODEL members, adds. 

Thanks to the private sector involvement, some of the beneficiaries have been offered jobs in the factories that support the project. 

Eli Mercedes stops studying for a second to say "I love to feel part of something important, I am a new woman now, I do what I do firmly and with all my heart."

 "We won't give up. We are ready to keep going. Always," Claudia says smiling. 

"We won't disappoint all the people that have helped us", Teresita says while she keeps selling tortillas on the dangerous gang controlled streets of San Pedro Sula. 

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