Dec 25: A truly international Christmas

GEAI members and volunteers may be involved in the campaign against global warming but they certainly increased their carbon footprint this Christmas!  One of the surprising features of  GEAI is the number of members who are not originally from Ireland, and the number of local Leitrim people is definitely in the minority.   And, no more than our own Irish emigrants who came back to Ireland, our members travelled home (or at least out of Leitrim) at Christmas-time.  This week, members are back from Belgium, Portugal, Spain, UK (London) and Hungary.

What an eclectic group!  All have stories to tell and the stories about customs in different countries are fascinating.  Do you know that, in Ukraine, Christmas is hardly celebrated at all?  The real Ukrainian religious festival is on 6th January and marks the end of a 40-day fast.  The festival goes on for two days and gifts are given, no doubt in memory of the three Wise Men that came from the East.  Because today is 6th January, our Ukrainian volunteer Olga will prepare a traditional Ukrainian dinner to mark the day.  In Ireland, 6th January is Little Christmas or Nollag na mBan, so we will combine the two traditions by providing Irish hospitality in its truest form and celebrate in style!

Lima climate summit postpones key decisions until 2015

Lima Climate summit a disappointment

logo_Lima_climate_action_H-624x229The vital Lima climate summit was a disappointment.  Governments have to put individual climate pledges on table in the first half of next year, forming the foundations of the global climate agreement due in Paris next December.  However, many of the big issues that have plagued the talks for years were shirked and left for later. (Daily tck). Overall, this COP shows governments are disconnected from their people who are worried about climate risks and want a just transition to boost our economies, deliver jobs and strengthen public health.

On a positive note, negotiators  were in sync with the emerging consensus around the world that we need to phase out fossil fuels, illustrated by this phaseout being listed as one of the options in the draft outline for the Paris agreement. Governments acknowledged that they have a May deadline for turning that current list of options for the Paris agreement into a legal negotiating text. This means real work on the Paris agreement must get underway at the next session in February in Geneva.

The final result of Lima is a 4 page document (almost incomprehensible) approved unanimously 30 hours behind schedule, where all the countries commit themselves to reduce greenhouse emissions but without a fixed goal. The document they agreed is still groundbreaking in its scope, but it left a lot of work to be done ahead of the conference in Paris.

Feelings were mixed after the summit . “We were pleased to see around 100 countries support the goal of phasing out carbon emissions by mid-century. The goal’s inclusion in the draft text is a win for the fossil fuel divestment movement and will add momentum to that growing campaign. But action must begin now, not after decades of delay”, 350.org communications director Jamie Hennsaid told to The Guardian. Even countries like China, which recently acheived a climate agreement with the US, said that “we’re not very satisfied with the outcome, but we think it’s a balanced and nice document”.

Other leaders, like the former Irish president Mary Robinson showed a bigger disappointment: “not enough was done by countries who can afford to wait.  The leaders of countries whose people are suffering now, who are most at risk and have least resources to mobilise for protection compromised the most. Because they can’t afford to wait – they are negotiating for lives,” she stated.

Ireland didn’t play a great role in Lima.

The first day, the country was awarded “Fossil of the Day” after beign one of the four developed countries along with Austria, Belgium and Australia that haven’t contributed to the Green Climate Fund, designed to help developing countries to mitigate the consequences of climate change. Just a few days after Australia and Belgium announced their contributions to the Fund, but not Ireland.

The Minister for Environment, Alex White TD, hardly referred to the Fund during his speech at the Lima summit, just saying that “we are actively exploring all options for scaling up our mobilisation of climate finance, including in relation to the Green Climate Fund”, despite his pledge of Irish action on climate change.  Obviously, he had not been given a mandate to pledge any money.

Now the road is open for the 2015 Paris summit, where a final agreement must be reach if the world want to stops climate change.

Shame on Ireland – “Fossil of the Day” in Lima

Ireland is one of only FOUR countries in the ‘developed’ world who have not contributed to the Green Climate Fund, designed to support developing countries to fight climate change while growing economically. At the UN Climate talks in Lima this week, Ireland, Australia, Belgium and Austria were given the first “Fossil of the Day” award, making them very conspicuous by their absence from the fund.

Only last September at the Climate Change conference in New York, Taoiseach Enda Kenny stated that Ireland had contributed generously to climate finance for developing countries “despite our very challenging economic and fiscal circumstances in recent years”. He went on to say that Ireland has a strong and proud track record. “We are working within the EU to ensure a fair and effective burden-sharing of the EU’s overall commitment and we are implementing legislation to underpin our climate change efforts.”

Good Energies Alliance Ireland (GEAI) Director, Dr Aedín McLoughlin, stated that “The absence of contribution to the global Green Climate Fund is a disgrace for Ireland. It is a well-documented fact that Climate Change affects developing countries much more that richer ones, who can afford to put adaptive measures in place. It is also true that “developed” countries are the source of over 80% of carbon emissions that are the cause of climate change. We therefore have an obligation to assist in tackling climate change throughout the developing world.

Are the Taoiseach’s words just script to make us look good, while the reality is that Ireland is not prepared to support climate action? Do we not care about the profound changes affecting the whole globe? Are the recent discussions on Energy Policy just empty words?

We have a proud history of supporting the human and economic development of poorer countries and we cannot separate aid for economic development from aid for climate change programmes. Our ex-President, Mary Robinson has recently been appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is the UN Special Envoy for Climate Change on the basis of her work on climate justice. “Building on her work on climate justice she will engage Heads of State and Government around the world in order to mobilize political will and action, and raise ambition.” said the announcement from Mr. Ban’s office. Surely the Irish Government should be the first to respond to her call?

GEAI calls on the Government to act as World Leaders in this vital area. “Ireland has a responsibility to be at the forefront of action on climate change – to show by example what can be done in our own country to reduce carbon emissions and to assist by every means the green development of poorer countries faced by extreme weather conditions, droughts, floods, changes in seasons and food shortages”.

Link to the original Press Release.

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