Two members of Transition Monaghan recently met with Irish MEPs while attending events in Brussels related to climate change, sustainability and Free Trade.
Conan Connolly was in attendance at an event organised by Alter EU to highlight the importance of transparency in lobbying. Lobbying is a huge part of the European political process, and it is estimated that there are around 30,000 lobbyists in Brussels, with most of them representing corporate interests. There is no real transparency in who gains access to the people who make important decisions that affect us all. The groups who attended the conference will work together to campaign for a mandatory and transparent register of lobbyists. While in Brussels, Connolly met with local MEP Matt Carthy.
Mícheál Callaghan and other activists from Ireland attended a week of workshops, network building and demonstrations in Brussels organised by Young Friends of the Earth Europe, to coincide with the Climate Talks in Peru.
As well as meeting with MEPs, the delegates at the youth conference, discussed measures to build the climate movement in Europe in the run up to the important Climate Talks in Paris in 2015. The delegates also took part in several demonstrations to raise awareness in Brussels and in the European media on a range of issues including climate change, the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership) and the murder and abuse of environmental activists in South America.
The discussions with MEPs focused on the need for Ireland and Europe to commit to strong climate targets, in tandem with efforts to support incentives for more sustainable employment. Concern was also expressed about the possible implications of the TTIP, the proposed trade deal between the USA and the EU. TTIP, which is largely being discussed behind closed doors. TTIP aims to remove all regulatory barriers between the United States and Europe. It also proposes to create a new tribunal to allow corporations to sue nations which aim to impose stricter standards which could be seen as breaching the agreement. The concern is that TTIP might lead to the widespread privatisation of public services which could have negative implications for environmental and farming standards. The delegates feIt that is vital that citizens, Non-Government Organisations and politicians take a strong stance on this serious issue. The MEP’s who met with the Irish delegation were: Lynn Boylan, Máiread Mc Guinness and Marian Harkin.
All participants travelled by land, to minimise emissions, with the Irish delegation taking a train from the ferry terminal in Holyhead (Wales), via the channel tunnel, to Brussels. The Irish delegation was the single largest delegation present.
Weblinks: Analysis of COP 20 Climate Change Talks: www.foei.org.
Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership: www.ttip.ie.
Young Friends of the Earth Europe Conference: limainbrussels.tumblr.com.
Outcome of Lima Climate Conference
After extending the deadline by two days, delegates on Sunday finally agreed an outcome from the Lima Climate Conference, which will serve to build towards a legally binding agreement at next year’s talks in Paris. The deal has received a mix of reactions. Officials and diplomats have branded it a success, saying that it provides a unified text to work from, however activists and environmentalists have said it is too vague on commitments and leaves too much to do in the run up to next year’s talks. The deal does not mention specific reduction agreements, simply stating that each country must submit emission reduction plans by next year, based on what they can achieve. The distinction between developed and developing countries in previous agreements is gone, in the sense that each country will now be required to aim for some level of reductions. No pledge is given for extra ‘technical assistance’ to help developing countries adapt, however, the commitment by developed nations to the Green Climate Fund, has been re- stated. Overall, it seems that this text is once again at odds with what science states is needed to avoid dangerous warming of 2 degrees Celsius, and it will be up to civil society to pressure governments to be more ambitious in the run up to next year’s talks.