Siri is our Climate Ambassador!

Siri Karavida, ESC volunteer at GEAI, is coming to the end of her volunteering year with us. The list of the things she managed to do while in Ireland is pretty impressive: Climate Action Days at schools, the household energy survey of Boyle, the Leitrim Cróga project (more on it soon!) and many more. However, amongst her main achievements she mentions becoming a Climate Ambassador.

What is Climate Ambassador?

The Climate Ambassador programme is a great opportunity to become a leader in your school, campus or community and to promote positive climate actions in a local context.

Climate change effects can be felt here and now, at a local, national and global scale. Becoming a Climate Ambassador gives people the opportunity and platform to do something really positive within our communities. Adapting to climate change and mitigating the adverse impacts is a growing concern in every community in Ireland.

Siri shares her experience

“My main action was delivering talks and presentations related to climate change in schools. It has been a very valuable experience, because I got the opportunity to talk about climate change to young students, who are the future active citizens and on whom the climate change will have the biggest impact. With my talks I reached about 140 people who were very engaged and interested. I faced some challenges regarding delivering the message of climate change without scaring and discouraging the students. I achieved that by finishing my talks with a positive message that there is still time and if we change our behaviour, climate change can be tackled. I was very surprised at the level of knowledge that the people already had on the issue, and the attention and engagement that they showed!”

If you are interested in becoming a Climate Ambassador, more information is available on the official website of the programme.

Alexandra Peralaika

Great news! Dáil declares climate emergency

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 Photo: David Tong, via Wikipedia Commons

An astonishing and positive step to fight climate change

GEAI is delighted to share the news that on Thursday, May 9th 2019, the Dáil voted to declare climate and biodiversity emergencyWith almost unanimous cross-party agreement, they also agreed to “accept and endorse” the blueprint for action developed by the cross-party Committee on Climate Action.  

“This is a remarkable development by our Government,” said Aedín McLoughlin, GEAI.  “Ireland is only the second country to declare such an emergency and already, across the world, we are being congratulated on this achievement.  Among the first to congratulate Ireland was famous climate activist Greta Thunberg who also pointed out that Climate Emergency means leaving fossil fuels in the ground! Good Energies Alliance is delighted with this declaration and hopes that future actions by this Government reflect the seriousness of the situation and the necessity by Ireland to show leadership.”

Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, supports what is happening in Ireland:

Green Party candidate delighted

“With the major Government parties, the Green Party is fully behind the recommendations of the Oireachtas Committee,” said Leslie O’Hora, director of GEAI.  “These include a target for Ireland to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, the potential for communities and individuals to sell solar and other renewable energies, reform of the CAP to provide more support for diversification of small farms, a new forestry plan and a huge programme of retrofitting public buildings.  Without doubt, the time for action is now!”

The only reservation on support for the blueprint for Climate Action was from Sinn Féin, who refused to support changes in our carbon taxes regulations.

Let us hope that this declaration is not just another example of empty words by our government, but will result in true leadership by Ireland in the battle against climate change!

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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