16 October 2019
Chaired by the experienced Mr Gerry Glennon of Mid-West Radio, over seventy people attended from different places and interest groups, including farming, clean energy groups, parents, grandparents, activists, church members and concerned members of communities,
The day opened with a message from Hildegarde Naughton TD, chairperson of the Joint Committee on Climate Action. She acknowledged that the government response had been unsatisfactory so far and stressed the need for a just transition to a lower carbon economy; diversification in agriculture and sustainable family farming. Ms Naughton outlined new initiatives such as citizen and community engagement through the National Dialogue on Climate Action; the Renewable Energy Support Scheme and growth in the numbers of Sustainable Energy Communities.
Kate Ruddock from Friends of the Earth emphasised the need for urgent action at all levels. She expressed pessimism at the current level of government action in Ireland and praised young activists who are campaigning for a change to ‘business as usual.’ Michael Ewing from the Irish Environmental Network and the Environmental Pillar spoke about Global Goals: Local Action, giving a comprehensive account of local initiatives and actions, which can lead to a new economics for a sustainable future. Ben Malone from the National Biodiversity Data Centre presented an alarming account of the loss of species but also encouraged local communities such as churches and GAA clubs to get involved in the All Ireland Pollinator Plan and to become citizen scientists who contribute to data on our native species. Dr Damian Jackson from the Irish Council of Churches explained why Christians should be concerned about climate change and outlined the Climate Justice Affirmations adopted by the Irish Inter-Church committee.
Dr Connie Nell from Sligo Environmental Network involved everyone in exploring the Sustainable Development Goals and how we can engage with them at local level. Dr Anne Francis from Galilee Spirituality Centre emphasised the need for a spirituality which supports healthy activism and this was echoed by Damian Jackson and Kate Ruddock who spoke about hope and solidarity. Participants enjoyed Fairtrade tea and coffee and a delicious vegetarian lunch from the chefs at the Bush Hotel, after which Sarah Garden led us all in some singing to give us a lift in the middle of the day.
Everyone enjoyed the day and felt that although the challenges ahead were serious, local action in partnership with all people of good will was the way forward.
Sincere thanks to our sponsors, the Mercy Sisters Western Province and the Western Development Commission.
You can see the presentation from Mr Michael Ewing here:
You can access the Climate Justice Affirmations from the Irish Inter-Church Meeting here : https://www.irishchurches.org/news-blog/5368/climate-justice-affirmations