Want to fight climate change? Stop wasting food!

Food, along with drinkable water, is the basis of humankind evolution and survival. Thus, with 7.6 billion people currently living on the planet, projected to increase to 9.8 billion by 2050, we simply cannot afford to waste food. So why is roughly one third of the of the food produced in the world for human consumption (ca. 1.3 billion tonnes) lost or wasted? (FAO). And how does food waste impact on climate change? Awareness of the links between these topics is low, in part because the media have failed to appropriately expose our shameful behavioural habits when it comes to food waste.

Logically, the bigger the population gets, the more food supply is needed. Since the development of agricultural practices (ca. 10.000-12.000 years ago) our food habits and needs have evolved and dramatically increased. In fact, historically, the wealth of a nation has always been measured with how much food surplus that country has been able to secure. Nowadays statistics show that wealthier countries have between 150 and 200% surplus of the food that is actually needed to feed their population.

Poster – Just eat it. A food waste story

Last week, the GEAI volunteers attended a showing of the film-documentary “Just Eat It – A Food Waste Story”. This humorous film was produced by Canadian filmmaking couple Grant Baldwin and Jenny Rustemeyer, who took on a six-month experiment of eating only discarded food. The purpose of this documentary is to expose the environmental crisis being boosted by North America’s (and the western world’s) wasteful eating habits. What this documentary shows is just a tiny fraction of this issue of global-scale magnitude.

It is shocking to witness the unimaginable amount of thrown-away food they find looking into stores’ dumpers and markets – vegetables and fruits being discarded on the mere basis of their aesthetic appearance and other foods that would be perfectly edible according to health and safety standards but are unsellable as they do not “attract” the consumer.
The film highlights how there is a misconception around the term “expiration date” printed on most products. People think that the date refers to the good conditions of the product and after that it is not safe or advisable to eat it anymore. This is not correct as the expiry date is simply an indication of freshness used by producers; a product is perfectly edible after the expiration date.

With field trips and interviews, Grant and Jenny shed light on the dynamics of waste along the whole food supply chain. The documentary contains valuable insights from experts on the matter such as the journalist and author Jonathan Bloom; the award-winning author and Feedback campaign founder Tristam Stuart; and the US National Resource Defence Council’s food/agriculture scientist Dana Ganders.

Tonns of food being thrown in a landfill (Ph. Gits4u.com)

Food production and distribution processes have enormous implications when it comes to climate change. Tonnes of food wasted go directly into landfills, releasing huge amounts of methane into the atmosphere, greenhouse gas with a far greater global warming potential than carbon dioxide. And this is just at the end of a product’s life cycle. All the food supply chain’s components, such as producers, manufacturers, distribution centres and retailers are jointly responsible in contributing to greenhouse emissions and our changing climate.

 A very powerful statement is made in the film: “we are contributing to climate change from our own kitchens”. And it is true. We simply have too much food, and we do not need it so we waste it. Halting food waste is a crucial part of the fight against climate change and something about which each one of us can take responsibility.

The Environmental Protection Agency is implementing a national campaign on this issue – StopFoodWaste.ie

This hilarious docu-film with a tremendously serious message is highly recommended to everyone!

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Our Climate Champion!

Our EVS Volunteer Francesca has been nominated Cool Planet Champion for county Leitrim!

Cool Planet Champion for Co. Leitrim

Cool Planet Champions is a joint initiative developed by The Cool Planet Experience, an interactive visitors experience on climate change located in Powerscourt Estate (Co. Wicklow), in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency.
The programme aims at explaining climate change in a simple and understandable way. Along with other 25 Champions across Ireland, Francesca has been trained to give interactive talks on this topic in order to raise awareness.
Talks are free of charge and can be booked from people or groups who are interested in finding out more about climate change. These can include schools, local businesses, community groups, book or sport clubs, community gardens etc.

Francesca said “I am delighted to be appointed as the Cool Planet Champion for Leitrim! I think this is a fantastic opportunity for me to put myself out there and advocate for something I really care about”. She began to have an interest in climate change issues in 2011 when she witnessed its effects in the Tropics, during a trip to Bangladesh. Right after that she pursued a masters’ degree in Environmental Economics and policy to better understand what was going on and what could be done to tackle it.

Francesca also added that “climate science is really complex and can be boring sometimes. There is an awful lot of information out there if you google the keywords climate change. Some of this information can be misleading and untruthful. My role is to provide sound and internationally recognised scientific evidence on this topic”.

Talking about her objectives, Francesca commented that her goal is to “easily explain to people what is happening to the climate and its consequences here in Ireland. I also hope to stimulate interesting debates and convince the local authorities as well as politicians on the importance of moving away from fossil fuels as soon as possible and take climate action immediately”.

If you would like to book a free talk please get in touch! You can reach Francesca by email at francesca1.geai@gmail.com, through the Facebook page Leitrim Cool Planet Champion or by ringing the 071 964 3117 (office) or 089 947 9508 (mobile).
For more information on The Cool Planet Experience click here.

GEAI at SEAI 2017 National Event on Sustainable Energy Communities

SEAI SEC National Event in Athlone IT

On Saturday 25th November 2017 our EVS Volunteer Francesca attended the annual National Event on Sustainable Energy Communities (SECs) organised by SEAI, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, and hosted by Athlone Institute of Technology, Athlone, Co. Roscommon.
The event brought together SEC representatives from all over the country to network with other SEC groups and share personal experiences as well as useful information.
The opening remarks by Julie O’Neill, SEAI Chairperson, celebrated the successful expansion of the Sustainable Energy Community Programme, with 124 SECs currently all around Ireland – this number has doubled during the last twelve months.

The event was structured around several workshops designed using a LEARN – PLAN – DO approach and tailored to meet the needs of SECs at different stages of development.
During the day participants and SEC representatives had the opportunity to get insights from SEAI mentors and guest speakers and share national and international experiences.
Topics of the workshops included Engaging Energy Citizens: Tools and Support; SEAI Citizen Engagement Programmes; Engaging Business Energy Users and lastly, Energy Master Plans and Renewable Energy.

“ThinkEnergy” toolkit

It was particularly interesting to learn about “ThinkEnergy”, a Home Energy Saving Kit developed by Codema aimed at better understanding the energy consumption at household level and cut down energy bills. The kit contains a fridge/freezer thermometer, a temperature and humidity meter, a radiator key, a thermal leak detector, a plug-in energy monitor and a stopwatch in addition to a user-friendly guide with tips and solutions. At the moment the kit is available to borrow free-of-charge in libraries across Dublin City and it will be soon made available in other parts of the country. (Watch the explanatory video here)

 

BMW i3 model (EV)

During the day our Volunteer had also the opportunity to test driving a five-door urban electric BMW i3. “It was really exciting to test it as it was the first time I drove an automatic and electric vehicle” Francesca said adding that “the event has been a fantastic experience to interact with people involved in energy issues at local level and to acknowledge efforts made by SEAI to engage with citizens and promote energy efficiency”.

GEAI website under maintenance

geai maintenance

GEAI would like to inform our visitors to this website that there are going to be changes on it from today till next week.

We apologize for the inconvenience that it may cause and we would like to answer any questions, and also share any necessary information via our email at goodenergiesalliance@gmail.com. Also we encourage visitors to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as we will be posting up-to-date information about our events as usual.

National Adaptation Framework on Climate Change – still a long way to go

Last September a public consultation on the National Adaptation Framework on climate change  was launched by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and we, at GEAI, submitted our opinion, making thirty-seven recommendations.

The document gave a fairly comprehensive overview of the projected impacts of climate change in Ireland d illustrated the governance process to be put in place for adaption. Nonetheless, on reading the draft it is evident that there is an element of “passing the buck” to the local authorities in terms of climate change adaptation.

2009 floods in Carrick-on-Shannon (Ph. Leitrim Observer)

In our view it is crucial that Government takes its own ambitions of being a “Leader in Climate Action” seriously and shows courage and determination in setting appropriate goals and targets to achieve this.

The National Adaptation Framework highlights the local authorities as key actors at the front line to fight against climate change. Even though we agree that local authorities will play a significant role, we argued that they must be supported with further appropriate financial and human resources.

If Government is not seen to provide leadership on Ireland’s response to climate change; if it does not tackle with appropriate legislative measures the three main causes of our high carbon emissions – the use of fossil fuels in energy generation and heating; meat production without adequate waste treatment measures; and our fossil fuel-guzzling transport sector – than it is not reasonable to expect and adequate response from regional or local levels.

Furthermore, we believe that the regional level could create an important forum for discussion for localised climate action. We therefore suggest the establishment of Climate Action and Resilience Groups, with a statutory status, where three or four counties geographically close to each other  coordinate to ensure more effective information sharing processes and, consequently, more cooperation. The country-wide Public Participation Networks must also be considered as vehicles to boost Climate Action and provide opportunities for discussion.

Other suggestions presented included, for instance, establishment of local smart grids to protect power supplies in the event of extreme weather conditions; mainstreaming of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction concepts into sectoral policies and plans; new overarching school curricula on climate action and climate justice to be developed and implemented at all stages of education; ensuring that resources are made available for extreme weather adaptation measures at household level for communities and vulnerable groups of people.

Read our full submission

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