The highlight of an eventful two weeks on the climate agenda was the speech by well- known nature broadcaster David Attenborough at the international climate talks in Poland. “Right now, we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale”, he said. At the event he also announced the United Nations launch of a new campaign enabling individuals the world over to unite in actions to battle climate change. Here in Ireland, there have also been some developments which have brought attention to what needs to be done.
ATTENBOROUGH AND ‘THE PEOPLE’S SEAT’
The ‘people’s seat’ was created at climate talks to represent the hundreds of millions of people around the world whose lives are about to be affected by climate change. David Attenborough took up the seat last week at the crucial talks in Poland that are now coming to an end in Poland. Mary Robinson said that his memorable speech “echoed around the world”. His appeal was in these words:
“If we don’t take action the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon… Leaders of the world, you must lead. The continuation of our civilisations and the natural world upon which we depend, is in your hands.” David Attenborough
Agreeing the ‘rule book’ for implementing the Paris Agreement of 2015 is the focus of these talks. However, Michael Mann, a top US climate scientist has said that while many countries genuinely want an agreement, some countries with major fossil fuel interests are standing in the way. He named them as the US, Russia and Saudi Arabia. The role of the world’s youth in pushing for climate action was highlighted at the talks by the 15-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. In her address which was been widely viewed on social media she referred to many of the leading politicians there as “behaving like children”
HARNESSING NEW MEDIA
David Attenborough urged everyone to use the UN’s new ActNow.bot (which opens Facebook Messenger). It is designed to give people the power and knowledge to take personal action against climate change directly on the Facebook Messenger platform.
ActNow.bot recommends everyday actions – like taking public transport, saving energy and eating less meat – and tracks the number of actions everyone individually is taking. A person who shares their ‘Climate Action’ progress with their followers on social media, can help encourage more people to act.
IRISH ‘CASE’ HIGHLIGHED AT CLIMATE TALKS
Ireland is one of six legal cases brought against Governments worldwide seeking stronger action against national greenhouse gas emissions which have been highlighted today at the UN Climate talks. Clodagh Daly, speaking on behalf of Climate Case Ireland, joined speakers representing legal challenges against the European Union, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, and the US Federal Government. The legal actions all aim to ensure that governments deliver the urgent cuts in emissions necessary to avert catastrophic climate change. Ms Daly said that the case seeks to have the 2017 National Mitigation plan quashed and remitted to the government for remaking in accordance with the law.’ The case, taken by Friends of the Irish Environment, is due to be heard in the Irish High Court on January 22nd
EMISSIONS STILL WAY OFF TARGET
Ireland’s emissions dropped by less than one per cent in 2017, leaving us well off track to meet our 2020 climate targets, new data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reveals. The agency revealed that Ireland’s emissions were 60.75 million tonnes last year – 3 million tonnes above where we should be in order to meet our 2020 targets. While power generation emissions were down by almost 7% there was increase of 3% in emissions from agriculture. There are real concerns that the 2018 figures will not show any reductions of significance. A new report from Europe just published on Monday last – the Climate Change Performance Index – rated Ireland as the worst in the EU on climate action.
CLIMATE ACTIVISTS STAGE ‘SIT- IN’
On Friday last more than 40 activists occupied the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment in Dublin on Friday for almost two hours. They were calling on the Government to accelerate progress in adopting three pieces of climate action legislation, The group ‘Climate Friends Ireland’ staged the sit-in following a climate protest outside of the Dail earlier that afternoon. Before the Group concluded their sit-in they presented the Secretary General of the Department, Mark Griffin, with a list of over 20 demands on where they want to see Government action.
Complied by Liam Murtagh