A scare in time?
Posted by Oisín Coghlan on November 02, 2017 at 01:30 AM
The scariest thing I saw this Halloween was this new report about carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. The last time CO2 stayed this high, sea levels were 20 metres higher than they are today.
But there is hope . Research also reported this week concludes "an energy transformation big enough and fast enough to curb global warming remains within reach. Better still, we do not need to wait for new inventions to implement the changes we need; the transformation can happen right now".
In Ireland, I think Storm Ophelia could be a turning point. Something changed that week. The kinds of messages we have been pressing for years, not least recently, were suddenly top of mind when journalists were questioning politicians or crafting their own analysis of Ophelia. Philip Boucher Hayes report for Drivetime was a great example.
But as I wrote in a Journal.ie piece the Government's response to the storm itself showed exactly the leadership, coordination and determination that is entirely missing in Ireland's efforts to cut climate-changing pollution.
Storm Ophelia highlighted the hypocrisy of the Irish Government on climate change. On the one hand asking the Citizens' Assembly to advise how that state can be a leader in tackling climate change. On the other hand fighting tooth and nail in Brussels to water down Ireland's 2030 targets with loopholes and special treatment.
The Government is way behind the public on climate action - as demonstrated by the fascinating first weekend of the Citizens' Assembly, and the latest Eurobarometer poll . Of all 28 EU member states Irish people were strongest in saying "Fighting climate change and using energy more efficiently can boost the economy and jobs in the EU" (88%). And 4th strongest on the need for our own government to "increase the amount of renewable energy used, such as wind or solar power, by 2030". 96% of 1,021 respondents in Ireland said that was important or very important. Instead our government is proposing that our 2030 target should be no higher than our 2020 target. And is resisting EU initiatives to get us to do more.
I think we can turn the gap between the public appetite for climate action and political inertia into real campaigning pressure. With your help .
We have our work cut out for us. We are fighting on a number of fronts.
- Leo Varadkar signed our petition in support of rooftop solar power but Denis Naughten's draft scheme doesn't include small scale solar. We have 15,000 signatures and counting on our petition to change that.
- The Citizens Assembly may make radical recommendations this weekend for Government climate action. We need to follow up persistently to make sure politicians don't just ignore this pioneering democratic exercise.
- Ireland is playing "silly buggers" at EU level. We have lots of allies who want to work on this with us as it's now a drag on overall EU ambition. But we need the capacity to do so.
- The climate law has finally forced the Government to produce an action plan. But it's nowhere near good enough. Now four ministers have to address the Dáil and Seanad on their progress before Christmas. We need to make sure TDs and Senators know all the key questions to ask them.
- We helped the successful grassroots campaign to ban fracking in Ireland. But now the Government wants to import fracked gas from the US! We won't stand for that.
We have the experience to fight these campaigns. We have the strategies that can win. We have the allies who want to work with us.
Can you make a donation to our Feel the Heat Fund to power our campaigning. Everything you give will go straight to our campaigning work. Our admin costs are covered by other income. Anything you can afford will make a difference. We campaign on a shoestring so every donation makes a real difference.
Our campaigns are powered by you . Your support makes them possible. And your participation makes them powerful.
I think Ireland could be at a tipping point. There is new potential for people power to tip the balance towards climate action.
This is the moment our children will ask us about.
Together, let's be able to say we did everything we could .
In hope and fellowship,
Friends of the Earth
P.S. Our Feel the Heat Fund is not just about holding our politicians to account for their lack of leadership on climate. It's about grasping the opportunities for action that do exist. First up is our Run On Sun campaign to enable schools, clubs and households to participate in the solar rooftop revolution. We'll be back you on that in the next few days.
P.P.S. If you are around Dublin on Saturday - Stop Climate Chaos is organizing a " Dance for Climate Action " to coincide with the Citizens' Assembly - at 11am In Malahide and 2pm in Trinity College. There will be over 60 youth dancers, conveying the importance of action through movement. You too will have the opportunity to take part in a strong, simple, participatory dance. Everyone will wear red to create a striking visual impact so if you have a red jacket, hat, scarf, or anything easily visible, please wear it! See and SHARE the Facebook event here .
And finally ... did you see the first episode of David Attenborough's amazing new series , Blue Planet II. "One Ocean" will be repeated at 4.35pm this Sunday on BBC One before episode two airs for the first time on Sunday at 8pm . Set your recorders. David Attenborough's first series Life On Earth was a landmark in my childhood. One day we will be watching the last David Attenborough series. Meantime, the wonder of nature he captures like no one else reminds me what we are campaigning for : a world where people and nature thrive.