Climate Change – People Change? GEAI’s Youth Climate Action Week

From the 24th to 30th of July, Irish, Italian and Croatian young people between 18 and 24 years old travelled to Solta, a Croatian island near Split. For a week, they looked at their potential for leadership, focussing mainly on Climate Change and how young people can be inspired to take action.  They were 24 participants with nine accompanying leaders.

This project was a Strategic Partnership event, funded by EU Erasmus+.  The project has four partners – Good Energies Alliance Ireland (lead partner), DOOR (Croatian partner that organised the venue, promoter of sustainable energy development), Legambiente (Italian partner with the aim of making a new kind of development and diffused well-being through environmental culture) and Youth Work Ireland Galway (working with disadvantaged young people).

Legambiente’s website: http://international.legambiente.it/
DOOR’s website: http://door.hr/english/

The participants gathered in the Zelena akcija’s (Friends of the Earth Croatia) Solar Academy. It is a camp made from ex-military barracks and re-used as a place where young people from all over Europe can come and learn more about Climate Change and about practical ways to fight against it. The location is isolated, the water used for hygiene is filtered collected rainwater, the meals are vegetarian and the hot water is provided thanks to home-made solar panels (built in the camp itself). The young people got to experience an alternative way of life where they really had to pay attention to their water consumption and to the way they eat and it was actually an important part of the learning experience that took place on the island.

Video introducing the Solar Academy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZcVOJD7Ixg

Every day the participants and their leaders gathered and participated in various workshops facilitated by Brigitta Varadi, an international artist who organises and runs those kinds of leadership development events.

Brigitta Varadi’s website: http://brigittavaradi.squarespace.com/

The workshops facilitated participants to find, in an enjoyable and unique environment, the Climate Champions within themselves and to feel empowered to address the issues threatening our planet and their future. Thanks to several ice-breaking exercises, the participants felt comfortable with each other and it created a safe atmosphere for them to exchange their ideas about Climate Change and how to find solutions to the problems it brings. They got to challenge their own shyness and fears and to experience what it is like to work as group to create innovative ways to communicate about Climate Change. They learned and personally changed during this one week and it is the leaders’ belief that if people change, then they can bring positive changes in the world.

All of this happened in a beautiful but remote island, without modern facilities, that contributed to an atmosphere of cooperation, friendliness and laughs.  All the participants had an unforgettable and enjoyable week, with challenges for all but great learning as well.

By the beginning of the next school year, a website will be created to present all the details of this project and share its methodology and results so that anyone can benefit from it.

Climate Change – Threat or Opportunity?

Climate Change – a historical landmark?

Climate change is undeniably one of the hottest topics of today. It is widely seen as a major threat to the future of humanity and the planet. However, if we look at it from a different perspective, it can also be a historical landmark. Climate change presents an opportunity for societies to re-invent themselves.

The Paris agreement – a moment of unprecedented consensus
paris_agreement

The Paris agreement was ratified globally on 4th November 2016.

The Paris agreement achieved something remarkable. It was the first time that more than 190 countries agreed to a common framework. This is the acknowledgment of climate change as a global issue, to a point where the political representatives of almost all the greenhouse gas emitters in the world pledged to reduce their emissions. The most important thing that one can take from it is that this agreement opens the door to a future of total collaboration between the nations, in order to tackle such an important issue as climate change. This can be the opportunity for humanity to get together and engage in a dialogue that can take us in the right direction, a direction of re-invention towards a more sustainable future.

kennedy

John Fitzgerald Kennedy – Former president of the United States

Living examples of sustainability?

The effectiveness of the Paris Agreement pledges may be arguable, and the ambitions are not very high but, still, this agreement is something unprecedented. Even despite the fact that some of the bigger nations might feel tempted to withdraw from the agreement, if we look at the smaller developing nations, we can see that they have a lot of potential of becoming living examples of sustainability. As John F. Kennedy (JFK), once said: “The humblest nation of the world, when clad in an armor of a righteous cause, is stronger than all the hosts of Error.”

For the developed nations, the transition to renewable energies may seem more difficult because these countries are already endowed with a whole set of infrastructures that rely on fossil fuels, whereas in most developing countries, the infrastructure is still not there. This means that sustainable infrastructures can be built from scratch and that an efficient renewable energy grid could attend to the needs of a growing population.

“Cape of Good Hope”

During the 15th century Portugal, “brought new worlds to the world”, by exploring parts of the globe that were, at that point, still unexplored by the Europeans. The Portuguese navigators were seeking for the route to India but faced numerous challenges throughout the way. Their biggest challenge was a rocky headland, situated on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula, South Africa. They used to call it the “Cape of Storms”, for the many storms the navigators had to face when crossing this cape. After Bartolomeu Dias crossed this cape for the first time, the king of Portugal, D. João II, decided to rename the cape as “The cape of good hope”because it symbolized a new hope for the much-desired discovery of the route to India.

cape_of_good_hope

The Cape of Good Hope in South Africa

At the present moment, climate change may appear to be a “cape of storms” for us, but, if the nations collaborate and the right efforts are made, it has the potential to become the new “cape of good hope”. It can help us make our way to a more peaceful, prosperous, sustainable and united world.

This piece could not be finished without another JFK quotation:

“The problems of this world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics, where horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were, and ask why not.”

Alex

Ireland begins ratification of Paris Agreement

Minister for Communications, Climflood-denis-naughtenate Action and Environment Denis Naughten T.D., has secured Cabinet approval that will start the process for the ratification of the Paris Agreement for Climate Change (UNFCCC).  The Government has today (18 October) agreed to seek the approval of Dáil Éireann under Article 29 of our Constitution which states that prior approval of Dáil Éireann is required in order to ratify an international treaty.

 Minister Naughten said “Climate change is the defining challenge of our time and it is during our time that the obligation exists for us as a nation to take action. This obligation is as much an opportunity as it is an obligation.  Securing Cabinet approval today, which will allow me to proceed to seek Dáil Éireann approval, is a significant step and a strong signal to the people of Ireland and to the international community of our continued support for the Paris Agreement. The wave of global momentum behind the ratification of the Paris Agreement has been unprecedented. It is our children’s future and of vital national interest. I am seeking full support from all members of Dáil Éireann to facilitate its passage and ratify it before the next session of the ‘Conference of the Parties, COP22’ which will be held in Marrakesh from 7 to 18 November 2016.”

ANTI-FRACKING BILL WELCOME, BUT NOT ENOUGH


An amendment of the Petroleum and Minerals Act 1960 has been brought to the floor of the Dáil byand publicised as a ban on fracking.  The approach is to redefine Petroleum as “does not include any gas extracted through unconventional gas exploration and extraction methods “.  If this bill was passed, any petroleum licences for exploration or extraction of natural gas by fracking would not be permitted.

Leslie O'Hora - Green Party candidate

Leslie O’Hora – Green Party candidate

“I welcome any initiative to look for legislation to ban fracking.  However, I have a problem with this amendment, first published in 2013,” said Leslie O’Hora, Green Party candidate for Sligo/Leitrim and member of GEAI.  “The wording does not include oil, which is a major omission, given the current drilling in north Belfast, expressly looking for oil deposits.  Legislation based on this bill could allow fracking to extract oil”.

“In my view, and the view of other anti-fracking campaigners, any legislation banning fracking must be mirrored north and south.  We are one island and the oil and gas industries know no border.  In Northern Ireland, proposals to use unconventional methods (“fracking”) to extract oil are currently being explored.”

“I also have a problem with the terms “unconventional”.  There is no standard definition of this and the industry changes definitions all the time.  This term would need to be defined carefully if it was to be used in legislation.  In fact, the Green Party position is that ALL exploration and extraction of on-shore petroleum (including oil and gas) should be prohibited in the context of Climate Change and our obligations under the Paris Agreement.”

1.5 degrees warming this year?

This temperature spiral doesn’t requiere much interpretation. We are heading towards 1.5 degrees warming very quickly with temperature records broken every month for the past year.

spiral

The temperature spiral was designed by Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom. The animated graphic features a rainbow-colored record of global temperatures spinning outward from the late 19th century to the present as the Earth heats up.

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