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Join us for Global Divestment Day Action – Saturday 14th February at 2pm Sean O’Casey Bridge outside the IFSC

By Meadhbh Bolger

Imagine all the money that is put into oil, gas and coal industries is instead directed towards clean energy, community and social projects, arts and culture. Imagine a worldwide shift in consciousness and awareness where we all gave our heads a little shake and woke up to how ludicrous it is to destruction and control of this amazing planet? The fossil fuel divestment movement, which kicked off in 2012, is all about urging banks, institutions, universities, pension funds, individuals and more, to withdraw money they have invested in fossil fuels. Financially speaking, they are risky investments if we want to prevent destruction of the planet. So far, more than 837 institutions and individuals have committed to divest, and there are lively campaigns happening all over the world.

With the movement being led by students and young people, each week it seems, there are new creative, innovative and exciting events and actions taking place, alongside new promises of divestments. Just yesterday, students from University College London held an “oil orgy” (looks interesting); and last week, a big Norwegian fund removed their risky coal, oil sands, cement and gold mining investments. There have also been many “big” names speaking out on the issue, including the governor of the Bank of England, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and our very own Mary Robinson, who says:

“By avoiding investment in high-carbon assets that become obsolete, and by prioritising sustainable alternatives, we build capacity and resilience, particularly for more vulnerable people – while lowering carbon emissions.”

A really exciting and big moment in the movement is happening this weekend – the first Global Divestment Day. It will be the largest culmination of divestment events yet, with over 330 actions taking place between the 13th and 14th February worldwide, including three Irish events in Dublin, Letterkenny and Belfast.

What’s going on in Ireland? Well, things have just kicked off. A group of us from Friends of the Earth, People’s Climate Ireland and interested individuals have got together to do a bit of research into Ireland’s fossil fuels investments, and organise an event for Global Divestment Day. This Saturday in Dublin, we will be having some fun photos at 2pm on the Sean O’Casey bridge (near the IFSC) and will proceed to walk down to College Green to the Central Bank where there’ll be music, public engagement and divestment-themed cakes!

Join the event on facebook, or get in touch with Young Friends of the Earth (email here) if you are interested in joining the growing global movement. This is just the start for Ireland!

Action in Dublin as Ireland is awarded “Fossil of the Day” award in Lima!


We at Young Friends of the Earth took to the streets of Dublin on December 14th, courageous amidst frantic Christmas shoppers doing their  best to maintain sanity as the clock struck Santa. Our shared mission: to bring people back down to earth through casual conversations,  exploring our relationship with the earth herself from whom all presents come.

Why December 14th to battle the maddening crowds? Well to support our fellow YFoEers of course who had mobilized in Brussels with  environmental activists all over Europe during the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP 2014). The COP
took place in Lima, Peru  December 1st to 12th. An action on December 14th allowed us time and space to reflect on the outcomes of the COP, to sit with the discomfort  of Ireland having being awarded the ‘fossil of the day’ award along side 5 other countries, and Ireland’s failure to contribute to the Green  Climate Fund to support those countries hardest hit through climate chaos and with least resources to cope.

The feeling of disillusionment with those in power was all too familiar. Our so called leaders failing yet again to act in the interest of real and  sustainable progress. We decided a presence on the streets of Dublin showing solidarity with all those who care deeply about the Earth, was  something we could do.
Armed with 100 fliers, some fancy dress and a lot of heart we engaged as many people as were engaging. We spoke to many youth who also  felt disillusioned with not only environmental issues but their related social justice issues and the prevailing neoliberal agendas being upheld  that continue to exacerbate inequality. We spoke with people from many different countries and cultures, and each conversation left me for one  feeling richer and more appreciative of the diversity of culture, opinions, and expressions culminating on the streets of Dublin.

We ended the day with a trip to Dublin Food Co-op’s ‘World Fusion Sunday’ on New Market Square, feeling empowered and happy with the conversations sparked and the connections made. Taking action, sharing stories and listening to others opinions felt good.

Nicola Winters

Photos courtesy of Andrej Blagojević

How meeting MEPs forced me to think clearly about what climate justice means

During Lima in Brussels, some participants reached out to and met with some of their MEPs in the European Parliament. Ciara Ryan-Gerhardt from Ireland reports…

Two things stopped me in my activist tracks at the European Parliament Building this week. I am here to learn about, campaign and build awareness for climate justice; today I was reminded what a complex and difficult to define topic, and more hopefully movement, it is. The first meeting was less serious: my friend Rob and I were about to pass through the security screening in the front lobby when he said quietly ‘I have an egg in my pocket.’ (At breakfast in our Hostel he’d taken one and forgotten to eat it.) I laughed and said I reckoned we’d be ok—the security check wasn’t as strict as airports. We moved on through and followed our Member of European Parliament (MEP’s) assistant whom we were going to speak to.

The second meeting with another MEP made me stop for a more serious reason.

As activists we are fighting for a cause with our words; we have to be clear and precise. I sometimes feel that as an activist I put on my ‘Activist Hat’ (or in the words of a podcast interview commentary on Jeffrey Sachs, my ‘Advocacy Hat’). I get idealistic, big and global on a highly complex, politicised issue…and, I hate to say it, but a little naïve. But here’s the thing (and this is where it gets very interesting and why some would say ‘idealistic’): no increase is safe.

The United Nations (IPCC) says a 2°C increase is safe, climate scientists say 1.5°C is safe, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and other environmental organisations and groups say no increase is safe. And current knowledge says that if business as usual continues we’re faced with a 5-6°C increase by the end of this century. Climate science is interwoven with a lot of uncertainty, But in the words of an atmospheric physicist in Thin Ice: I don’t worry that we are going to all get killed by this ‘thing’ [he refers to our adaptable and resilient nature]. I do worry [though] that our children are not going to thank us for giving them the headache we’re going to be giving them if we carry on the path were following… Because if we don’t get out of this, they will have to. He says that each decade we postpone action to combat climate change and global warming,is another billion of tons or so of CO2 released in to the atmosphere.He says that that is the sort of climate where we really can’t predict where the warming will stop.

So what is climate justice? I’m still not sure I have an answer to that question but for me it’s got something do with the following: the global North is historically responsible for our climate crisis so it’s really up to us to lead. We have the finances, we have the technology, and we definitely need it: whether people are aware or not it is a human rights issue too and affects marginalised groups and sectors of society. That means working directly on local, practical and community-invested ownership of resources and energy, and local and sustainable jobs. It also means at an EU and local level, binding targets that are more ambitious than our current one that meant once we’d reached it (on overall EU level), there’s no more action until post 2020 (Yes, that’s right!). Given that once a Climate Bill is passed it has already been through the Parliament, Commission and corporate/industry-lobby hands, and is watered down each time, this is particularly important. Accountability (for example ensuring the advisory body is independent in their duties) Intergenerational equity is important, this is an issue that will affect our generation and many more into the future – that is actually where the whole issue gets quite scary, because as of today it is very difficult to say what this looks like.

It was hard learning but thanks to my MEP for pointing out the loopholes in my argument and my attempting to get clear.

Resources: I highly recommend watching the film ‘Thin Ice,’ which gives an overview of climate science by the researchers that are at the forefront of this interdisciplinary science. Physicists, biologists and chemists combine to make this film interesting and informative. You’ll find it here: http://thiniceclimate.org/watch-the-film

Network Gathering 2014 County Carlow :)


An account of the 2014 Network Gathering from one participant, Ciara Ryan Gerhardt 

I am very grateful to Young Friends of the Earth(YFoE) and Friends of the Earth for their involvement too, for giving us the weekend oasis in such beautiful nature in Ireland that was the YFoE Network Gathering.

Even for the one day that I could join, I really wanted to and appreciated the networking opportunities that the YFoE Gathering offered. Simply being a part of the action and skill-sharing, meeting other people who are doing great work in other parts of Ireland that I do not know so well. It offered this chance to meet people that we may not otherwise in our daily work, whether we work in the environmental field or volunteer our time to different causes. This really strengthened the weekend I thought: there were people doing all kinds of different work from policy to practical, to advocacy and activism, to community development and art-work, to being a student in an environmental discipline. It meant that we learned even more and had a more holistic approach to what’s currently going on in Ireland, what are the issues and what can we possibly do about it.

Despite varied levels of understanding of the issues we face in Ireland today, there was a sense that we were equal and our input valued. People shared their knowledge and skills openly. There was a scope to what we discussed which cannot be found in all environmental work which is generally more focused on one particular issue, and so I enjoyed this.

 

There were speakers, however as I had arrived late due to another workshop the same day that I had to attendthat spoke on topics ranging from the Brehon laws in Ireland to how we live now, to fracking and forestry. Our host, Mary White, a former Green Party politician, also gave a foraging tour of the local area). The YFoE hosts gave us a sense of ‘the bigger picture’ – in Europe and beyond – and where we might fit into that, and also what’s happening in Brussels this December. We had a brief history session on climate change and what had led to the creation of the ongoing Conference of the Parties (COP) and learned that protestors, climate justice activists and environmentalists like ourselves would be joining in Brussels for one week, to stand in solidarity, to show that we are informed and will not stand back and let “important people” not bother to make important climate decisions that need to be made. Now.

We want to show that this is important to us, to the planet and to the future. By not doing anything and not coming up with workable targets for emission reductions for example, the problem becomes more difficult for future generations to deal with. We need climate justice, and it is an issue that requires international co-operation, agreement and clear action. It involves and affects everybody, and that, to me, is precisely why I want to go to Brussels: I am aware that it affects everybody and the planet, and unfortunately not everybody can have their voice heard as I can – and so also I feel a duty to go on behalf of those who cannot speak. To me climate justice is very interlinked with social justice.

 

YFoE had four funded places to give so that we also could come and learn about direct activism tactics, media interviews and get to know many other people and aspects of the current climate justice movement in Brussels. It seemed like the ultimate opportunity to show we care about what will be decided in Lima! I am not sure how many of us applied, but certainly many of us seemed to perk up our ears at this opportunity. To be part of something bigger than ourselves and learn from other countries and people is something that I would love to do! Who wouldn’t – the application is called “Climate Champions”! Who wants to be a Climate Champion anybody?

(P.S. The application deadline has just passed, so you shall have to wait till next year for next year’s application.)

Thanks again to everyone who made it happen and was part of the wonderful weekend that was the YFoE Network Gathering!

 

Climate Champions Competition 2014 Now Open!

Do you….

  • Want to join a movement of young activists in Europe?
  • Want to be creatively involved in the global movement for Climate Justice?
  • Make sure Ireland does its fair share to Stop Climate Chaos?

 

If so….

Young Friends of the Earth have an exciting opportunity to bring a group of young people to Brussels to join activists demanding fair action on climate change.  This week of action will take place as our leaders meet to decide on the future of our world at the UN Climate talks in December.

To be a part of the movement contact us for more information before the 10th October at:

youngfoe@foe.ie

01 6394652

Facebook YoungFriendsoftheEarthIreland

Twitter @YoungFOEIrl

 

We look forward to hearing from you!