On Thursday evening, 5 May, Naomi Klein, one of the world’s leading climate and social activists delivered an inspiring talk at the RDS, Dublin entitled ‘How Climate Change is going to change everything (for the worse – or the better)’. Jennifer Mc Aree of Transition Monaghan went along and reports on the event. Mícheál Callaghan, also of Transition Monaghan attended the event (which formed part of Dublin’s International Literature Festival).
Naomi (right) signs a copy of her book for Jennifer.
Naomi Klein is a best-selling author and activist, devoted to spreading the messages of climate change and social injustice through writing books and newspaper articles, making films and giving speeches around the globe. Her latest book, ‘This Changes Everything’ challenges capitalism in its current unyielding and ravenous form. In it, she urges people to take back power for their communities by lobbying politicians, exposing multinational corporations and staging peaceful protests on issues related to climate change and social inequality. The book has been a worldwide success and has since been made into a documentary.
RTÉ presenter Áine Lawlor introduced Naomi, who gave an impassioned speech on global warming, the current failure to address it collectively as a human race and the many solutions out there that could have immediate effect – if we would only take action. She spoke about last December’s COP21 (the Paris Climate talks) and the positive and negative outcomes that emerged from it. While it is seen as being the most ambitious and promising climate pact to date, it is non-binding and signatory nations are left to their own devices in terms of what actions to take.
Naomi alluded to our Taoiseach making vague promises in Paris to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – and then returning home to facilitate increased emissions by pushing agendas like doubling our livestock herd under the ‘Food Harvest 2020’ plan. The Paris Climate Pact is not nearly enough if we are to keep temperatures from rising to below 2 degrees Celsius; there is little hope of achieving the ideal target of 1.5 degrees Celsius, which would secure the survival of vulnerable island nations.
Naomi acknowledged that most other countries were also guilty of being non-committal after the climate talks, including her native Canada. She referred to Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada which is currently being ravaged by wildfires that have this year arrived 1-2 months earlier than usual. Ironically, many of the 80,000 or more people that have been forced to evacuate Fort McMurray work in the oil industry to feed the insatiable appetite for cheap, convenient energy.
Naomi advised that wartime measures are required right now to come anywhere close to halting global warming. We must divest from fossil fuels immediately and invest in clean, renewable energy. This would support communities globally, including Ireland. She wittily mentioned Deputy Danny Healy-Rae’s Dáil speech last week. The Deputy in claiming that current climate change is not manmade was rejecting the evidence of thousands of scientists.
The message from Naomi Klein was that the longer we delay climate action the worse the problem will get. With regard to our newly formed Government, the good news is that a Department of Climate Change now exists. Its challenge is to tackle Ireland’s big emissions problem.
Naomi’s talk was followed by thoughtful questions from Áine Lawlor and members of the audience. The scary possibility of Donald Trump becoming the next US President arose, but Klein stressed that even if Hillary Clinton edges him out, she will still have to be pressurised to make tough decisions to fight rising greenhouse gas emissions. Overall it was a worthwhile, inspiring evening, topped off nicely when Naomi signed my copy of ‘This Changes Everything’. If only the new Cabinet could have been present to see her speak.