Climate Action Days 2.0 for Lough Allen College

After the success of our Climate Action Days initiative in Mohill Community College, GEAI organized several more sessions for Lough Allen College in Drumkeeran.  We are working with Transition Year students, learning more about climate change in a non-formal way. This activity is facilitated by our European Solidarity Corps volunteers.

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Having reviewed the results we achieved with Mohill students, we adapted the program for the second school: made our presentations more interactive, ice-breakers and energisers – more fun, and we also added in the basics of Sustainable development.

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Aedin McLoughlin, CEO and Youth Project Coordinator

Working with teenagers, we use a lot of games. Our first session was 2 hours long, because it included theoretical part and introduction of the climate projects, or actions, that the kids will do. So the games help to break it up a bit. And who doesn’t like games? We certainly do!

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During our second session we got familiar with Sustainable Development Goals: 17 goals founded by the UN in 2015 to tackle the major problems of humankind (hunger, poverty, climate change and more). The aim of sustainable development is to develop the possibility to grow economically without compromising the wellbeing of future generations.

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The students have chosen the topics for their group projects and are working on them. In two weeks we are going to meet again in the Organic Centre in Rossinver to discuss the results of their work.

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FOOD AND CLIMATE CHANGE – You should start to be concerned about your diet

Climate change is now a very popular topic, and when we talk about measures to prevent it we usually think about reducing plastics, switching to green energies and electric transport, and maybe planting more trees. All really important solutions, but many of us forget that the food system is one of the major drivers of climate change. – And by the way, it’s directly connected to all those issues listed.

 

BUSINESS AS USUAL IS NOT AN OPTION

Agriculture is one of the largest contributor of greenhouse gases contributing 19 to 29% of total GHG emissions. As stated in a study published last October in the journal Nature (1) “between 2010 and 2050 […] the environmental effects of the food system could increase by 50-90% in the absence of technological changes and dedicated mitigation measures, reaching levels that are beyond the planetary boundaries that define a safe operating space for humanity.” The study calls for solutions such as more plant-based diets, improvements in technologies and management, and reductions in food loss and waste.

The topic is particularly current, given Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s declaration last week on reducing meat consumption. Without discussing the controversy arising from his statement, we believe the matter must be taken seriously because changes can not only be imposed from above but should also come from the conscious choices that each of us makes. And although much of the Irish economy is based on agriculture – and livestock farming in the Irish countryside seems to be rather sustainable – we need to think about the future of our planet.

As EPA Ireland reports, agriculture is the single largest contributor to the country’s overall greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for over 30% of the total. Ireland is a small country with a relatively small population, but emissions per person are amongst the highest of any country in the world. And if we look at meat consumption per person we can only hope for a change in our habits: we consume over twice the global average!

Also, according to another study (2) “very high calorie diets […] are associated with high total per capita greenhouse gas emissions […] due to high carbon intensity and high intake of animal products”.

through CGIAR Centers and Research Programs

through CGIAR Centers and Research Programs

 

820 MILLION PEOPLE HAVE INSUFFICIENT FOOD

In the study presented on the 17th of January by EAT-Lancet Commission in Oslo (3), twenty scientists from around the world called for the adoption of diets and food production practices to ensure that the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement would be achieved. Because, “although global food production of calories has kept pace with population growth, more than 820 million people have insufficient food and many more consume low-quality diets that cause micronutrient deficiencies and contribute to a substantial rise in the incidence of diet-related obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases, including coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes”. Researchers say that a sustainable diet should “largely consists of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and unsaturated oils, includes a low to moderate amount of seafood and poultry, and includes no or a low quantity of red meat, processed meat, added sugar, refined grains, and starchy vegetables”.

through The Irish Times

 

ARE YOU A FLEXITARIAN?

Here we go, vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan or flexitarian and then organic, local, something-free and so on: we are not talking about choosing more trendy diets or groceries! The problem is that we are harming the planet because of what we eat and how we produce our food (and how we transport it and sell it…). We should start to think about, to find out and to adopt sustainable habits. One of the least extreme approaches for example, is the Flexitarian diet – it is very similar to the recommendations of the EAT-Lancet Commission study – which requires a considerable reduction in the amount of meat consumed. In short, a Flexitarian is a vegetarian who eats meat occasionally.

As Oisin Coghlan from Friends of the Earth Ireland reminds us, the average Irish carbon footprint is around 12 tonnes of CO2 a year and we have to halve that by 2030 and get it down to 1 or 2 tonnes by 2050. 25% of that quantity (3 tonnes) comes from food. If you don’t eat beef and lamb it drops to about 2 tonnes, if you are a vegetarian it’s about 1.5, and if you are vegan it is lower again. So let’s start to rethink our diet and spread the word!

 

Notes
  1. Springmann et al. (2018). Options for keeping the food system within environmental limits. Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/
  2. Pradhan et al. (2013). Embodied greenhouse gas emissions in diets. Retrieved from https://ccafs.cgiar.org/bigfacts/
  3. Willett et al. (2019). Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems. Retrieved from https://www.thelancet.com/

 

Below you can find some diet suggestions
  • Drayer (2019, January). Change your diet to combat climate change in 2019, CNN. Retrieved from https://edition.cnn.com/
  • Sawa (2019, January). Seeds, kale and red meat once a month – how to eat the diet that will save the world, The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/

 

Other sources

 

Nino Rizzo

Climate Action by Mohill Students

GEAI recently organised Climate Action days for Transition Year students of Mohill Community College. The goal of the three days was to raise awareness of climate change, and to encourage the class to plan and carry out innovative projects based on sustainability, e.g. energy, waste, food production, etc.

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This initiative was a great success. All students participated enthusiastically and succeeded in carrying out Climate Actions that range from composting to raising funds for Irish Wildlife Trust; from interviews with the local community to litter picking. A highlight was a new Climate Change song composed and performed by four of the students! (We plan to record and publish the song shortly.)

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Cool Planet Experience

Calculating our carbon footprint

Sarah and Siri, GEAI volunteers, visited yesterday the Cool Planet Experience in Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow! Together with our previous volunteer, Francesca, the Cool Planet Champion from Co. Leitrim, we wondered in this unique, interactive climate change experience. Our journey started with calculating our personal carbon footprint, which was much higher than expected!

Then we continued in the disaster room, where we saw the devastating effects of our actions on our planet, and the consequences we are going to face if we will not chanCool Planet Experience braceletsge. Flooding, famine, and complete dystopia. A scary scenario but real nevertheless! With this bad feeling about our planet we entered the globe room, where we were informed about the science behind the climate change and what we can do to tackle the problem. After that, we continued to the ‘Race to 2050’ room. In a series of funny video games, we managed to save a city from the brink of destruction. We built wind farms, insulated homes and put solar panels on the roofs, fixed water leakages and recycled tonnes of plastic and metal! Sarah was the absolute winner, as she managed to have the highest score in all the games! What a climate agent! She absolutely saved the city!Cool Planet Experience Enniskerry

But our success doesn’t stop there! In the quiz room we got the highest score of the week, answering right most of the questions. Did you know that 40 000 cows are slaughtered every week in Ireland? We did, but were as disturbed by the fact, as you are!

And off to the Forest of Hope where we could finally relax and have our hopes restored. If we all act now and stop self-destructive practices, we can save our future. In the room of Brighter Futures we pledged to reduce meat consumption, use our cars less and make our houses environmentally friendly.

As a result we will manage to reduce our carbon footprint significantly.Cool Planet Experience Small changes in our everyday life that can make a huge difference. A roller coaster of an experience! We started terrified but went out full of hope and promises to act now! Why don’t you too?

 

 

 

 

 

Greed and coal, oil and gas industries are main obstacles to SDGs

Coal power

Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University, was a keynote speaker at the 2018 High-Level Political Forum to analyse the global progress toward achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). In his address, he slammed the coal, oil and gas industries, saying that they “are the biggest obstacle to the achievement of the SDGs”.

He called out the global food industry’s unsustainable supply chains and unhealthy products. Citing overlapping rankings at the top of sustainable development and happiness tables, he noted that sustainable development promotes well-being and happiness, while tax cuts for the rich undermine essential dimensions of the SDGs.

He called on rich countries and individuals to address the $200 billion shortfall in funding required to achieve the SDGs, by:

  • increasing Official Development Assistance (ODA)
  • using 1% of the wealth of the world’s 2208 billionaires
  • closing down off-shore tax havens
  • taxing the five big global technology monopoly companies
  • taxing financial transactions
  • a global carbon tax
  •  measures to tackle wholesale tax evasion.

 

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