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.
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. 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, 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.
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.