SPEAKING AT THE UN ON LEITRIM’S CAMPAIGN AGAINST FRACKING

Me with Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason

With Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason

 

I had the honour of giving a talk on the role of women in our Campaign against Fracking at a UN event in New York on 14th March.  The event was organised by the Mining Group of the Commission on the Status of Women and was part of the United Nations two-week conference focusing on the empowerment of rural women globally.  I was invited to speak by Rev Debbra Gill, moderator of the event.

I also had the honour of meeting our Ambassador to UN, Geraldine Byrne Nason and President Mary Robinson.

In my talk, I focused on the stages the campaign went through, starting in 2011 at kitchen meetings, the showing of “Gasland”, protests, public meetings, social media campaigns and political lobbying, resulting in our wonderful ban on fracking. According to the organisers, the Irish campaign against fracking can act as a template for campaigns globally.

Because of the theme of the conference, I focussed mainly on the role that women played in the campaign.  It was only when looking back at the entire campaign that I realised how much women had contributed.  This is not to say that men did not play an important part (Tony McLoughlin and Eddie Mitchell for example), but from the start of the campaign, women were to the fore of the action – whether organising meetings or protests, making speeches, giving presentations, researching, lobbying, tweeting or emailing.  In fact, this campaign had the side-effect of empowering local rural women to make a stand against something they felt strongly about and to feel that they could make a difference.  Up to now, this was not fully acknowledged and I was very happy to emphasise the role that they played.

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June 2017: Government bans fracking!

It was also wonderful to have the opportunity to tell the world of our campaign starting in rural Leitrim that gained such momentum that it influenced our Government to agree unanimously to ban fracking in Ireland.

We now have one of the strongest bans in the world; to remind you, the wording is as follows:

“Notwithstanding anything in this Act or any other enactment or rule of law, it shall not be lawful for a person to search for, get, raise, take, carry away or work petroleum by means of hydraulic fracturing.”

And you can’t get any stronger than that!

Link to presentation: Campaign against Fracking in Ireland

Aedín McLoughlin, GEAI Director

 

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.

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

Time to celebrate the fracking ban!

On Saturday 14th October at the Ballroom of Romance in Glenfarne, Co. Leitrim, there was a hectic and vibrant atmosphere with people gathering from all around Ireland to celebrate the outstanding outcome represented by the ban of hydraulic fracturing activities on the Irish soil. While approaching the location of the party, one could admire the sparkling Love Leitrim’s Heart lit on the hill in the darkness giving a strong signal of hope to the rest of the world.

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The Leitrim’s Heart (Ph. Love Leitrim)

The six-year-long campaign has been difficult, putting considerable strain on people involved in it. However, looking at people’s faces there is no doubt that very effort was worth to be made. International activists Julia Walsh from New York and Helmut Fehr from Germany joined the party and gave speeches on how Ireland’s fight and victory against fracking has inspired them to keep pursuing their own campaigns.

Entertainment was provided by the well-renowned Kila Band, followed by Stephen Murphy’s touching poetry and the performance of Three Speaking Monkey and The Mullies Crowd and, lastly, the 70’s disco.

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Kila members performing

GEAI members and EVS Volunteers who attended the party would like to say a heartfelt thank you to Love Leitrim, which did a fantastic job in setting up the lovely venue!

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EVS Volunteers at the Global Frackdown party

 

Reduce your bill – join local sustainable community.

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Our Survey of Four Communities in Leitrim is done

Volunteers from GEAI finished surveys last week on how households get and use energy . Four towns were surveyed: Drumshanbo, Carrick-on-Shannon, Ballinamore and Carrigallen. 10% of houses in Drumshanbo (60), Carrick-on-Shannon (150), Ballinamore (50) were surveyed and 20% of houses in Carrigallen (25).

This energy survey is part of the Northwest Energy Communities Start-up project (NECS). The project is a part of the national plan for transition of communities all over Ireland to a low carbon economy, moving away from fossil fuels and using renewable energy resources.

The partners in this project are Good Energies Alliance Ireland and I.T. Sligo. The project is funded by SEAI – the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland

Basically the NECS project is researching how people, in selected towns, use energy and how much it costs them. GEAI and IT Sligo prepared questionnaires for each town.  The questions were about type of houses, heating systems, heating control systems and most importantly, questions about energy bills.

After all the information is analyzed, GEAI and IT Sligo will organize an Exhibition Day in each surveyed town to give the results of the surveys and plan how residents could have warmer, more comfortable homes while costing them less on fuel and heating.

After the project, each town can be registered as a  (SEC) with the SEAI.  The SEC programme gives grants to make homes more energy efficient and warmer through more insulation, better windows, solar panels and upgrading boilers, for example.

Form volunteers perspective.

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For the GEAI volunteers it was a unique experience.

“We were knocking on doors and asking questions. This experience helped to train our communication skills, flexibility, teamwork and many other skills.”

The volunteers worked 2 days per week in the evening from about 5 pm till 8:30 pm. They were supported by local volunteers in each town, so that people were happy to answer questions.

“We came across different situations, different people’s reactions. The vast majority of people were nice to us and they were glad to help us.  They were also interested in reducing their energy bills!”

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