A great summer and busy September!

What a really great and warm summer we had in Ireland! Yes, we enjoyed ourselves but
climate action is never-ending and we were still active during the summer.

Adoption of the fossil fuels Divestment Bill

Adoption of the fossil fuels Divestment Bill

In July, we sent two young EVS volunteers from Leitrim to Greece for the month to work in a
forest to try to keep it safe from forest fires. They succeeded – their area didn’t suffer from the
forest fires that devastated other forests in the region.

On 12th July, we were delighted to be present in Leinster House during the adoption of the fossil fuels Divestment Bill.

In August, we sent another two volunteers to Greece for the month; they all agreed that it was a very worthwhile thing to do and were extremely enthusiastic about their EVS experience. This encourages GEAI to continue to send young people abroad to volunteer in the future.

In September, comes a new start for GEAI – Siri, a new Greek volunteer arrived. Siri arrived on 25th, the day that Dublin celebrated the 3rd anniversary of the Sustainable Development Goals’ adoption. We all supported the celebration – an exciting start to Siri’s EVS year with us!

EVS Volunteers with GEAI

Pre-departure training for EVS project in Greece

September also brought a new start to “Good Energies 2020”, our Strategic EVS project funded by Erasmus+. This project will continue for two years and will be the main focus of our EVS volunteers until then. During this time, we aim to continue the work of empowering young people to tackle climate change and to become climate leaders in their communities. We will be working with schools and communities, organising climate action projects and days, carrying out energy surveys in local towns, giving seminars and organising conferences.

In our work with schools, we will be working with ECO-UNESCO, who are engaged with the development of climate change modules for Transition Year students. Our work is ground-breaking and we will be very much focusing on non-formal learning in our methodologies.

Sustainable Development Goals March - Powerful Communities banner

Celebrating the 3rd Anniversary of the SDGs

Nino, our Italian EVS volunteer, took part in the “Reimagining our Rural Communities” event organised by Leitrim Development Company on September 26th. The aim was to stimulate debate and share ideas and opportunities for the future of the county.

“I participated in a group discussion on our dreams for Leitrim,” said Nino. “Our group agreed that Leitrim could become the first sustainable county in Ireland!“

On 28th, five of us went to Rosses Point armed with thermometers, pH meters and nitrate tests to survey this magnificent beach as part of the European Coastwatch Survey. Blue Flag beaches, the Atlantic ocean, miles of sand with a few walkers, rock-pools, cliffs, dunes, you name it. The usual denizens of the rock-pools were alive and well – crabs, shrimps, sea anemones,

Coastwatch Survey Rosses Point

Coastwatch Survey – Rosses Point

sea-urchins and periwinkles. As well as masses of seaweeds, of course. We had a really lovely time and arrived home greatly encouraged in our aim to preserve this wonderful earth.

Finally, in September Good Energies Alliance Ireland achieved registered Charity status, which opens up doors in bringing in volunteers from non-EU countries as well as giving us more potential for fund-raising.

A good beginning to Autumn 2018!

 

 

National Dialogue on Climate Action – It’s Community Engagement time!

The first of a series of Regional Gatherings under the National Dialogue on Climate Action took place in Athlone, at the Radisson Blu Hotel, on Saturday June 23rd. What a fantastic day! The National Dialogue on Climate Action is a Government led initiative through the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, along with the Environmental Protection Agency, in engaging people in collaborative action.

Representatives from organisations, community groups, NGOs and individuals from across Roscommon, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan, Louth, Meath, Westmeath, Longford and Offaly gathered together in Athlone and shared ideas and solutions to be taken at grassroots and local level to tackle climate change. A GEAI delegation participated at the Dialogue, including our EVS volunteer Francesca in her capacity of Leitrim Cool Planet Champion.

Guest speakers and Minister Naughten

Discussions and workshops went on for the whole day. Guest speakers included Dr. Conor Murphy  (Maynooth University), Mick Kelly and Katie Smith (Change X and Grow It Yourself), Dr. Margaret Desmond (University College Cork). A drop-in area was open to the public to meet representatives from Eco-Unesco, Teagasc, An Taisce, SEAI, VOICE Ireland, IFA and EPA.

The choice of the location for the event is significant as “Athlone is one of the areas which have suffered greater impacts of climate change. At the moment 147 families are still seeking relocation due to flooding” Minister Naughten highlighted in his opening remarks. “The Government has committed nearly 1% of the GDP to be spent on climate measures under the National Development Plan. No other government in the world has done that” said Denis Naughten. The Minister called also for communities to make their voice heard. He told the audience that when he was campaigning for the general elections only one citizen asked him about climate change.  “We will be investing but we need people and communities to talk about climate change” he added.

Francesca with Minister Naughten and other participants (Ph credit: DCCAE)

It has been such an inspiring day and I was delighted to be appointed as one of the Table Hosts to facilitate the discussion as the Leitrim Cool Planet Champion” Francesca said. “There is a terrific positive energy among the people here today. We are all very conscious of the urgent and imperative collective effort needed. Now it is time to engage with the whole civil society, we simply cannot afford any further delay” she added. “Climate change represents a threat but also a major opportunity for Leitrim. The inevitable transformational change required represents a massive opportunity for low-carbon investments across all economic sectors, resulting in an increased attraction of new brains (and families) to come and live in this stunning part of Ireland” Francesca concluded.

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.

Fracking ban
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

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