People’s Climate March in advance of CoP21

27th November 2015
Press Release

An Taisce Urges All in Ireland to Protest For Climate Action this Sunday at the People’s Climate March in Dublin assembling at Custom House Quay at 2.00pm. Marches also in Belfast, Galway and Cork.

The overwhelming scientific advice is that global humanity faces devastating impacts from climate change unfolding over the coming decades, unless we radically reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) starting now. We are already past prudent "safe" thresholds of GHG levels in the atmosphere. The vast majority of fossil fuels already discovered need to be left in the ground. The emissions associated with food production must also be urgently addressed while still ensuring adequate nutrition for a growing world population. These are utterly unprecedented challenges to human civilisation: a "planetary emergency" directly affecting us all.

In the 21 years of the United Nations Conferences of the Parties, or CoP, leaving fossil fuel reserves in the ground has never been addressed, reflecting the strength of the corporate lobbies. Meanwhile emissions have risen 60% and global subsidies to support fossil fuels continue at over €500bn per year with indirect subsidies in the trillions of euro.

Each year of delay makes the challenge much harder and the needed emission reduction rate progressively higher. Given that we can't agree even to promise "enough" ambition now, the idea that we'll successfully increase ambition in the future seems to be simply wishful thinking to avoid being honest with citizens about the true scale of the problem, and the disruptive, pervasive changes that will be needed especially in the rich world.

Paris is not simply a once-off event: we must hope that its likely-inadequate pledges will finally start to galvanise that global mobilisation. Politicians are not going to lead, so people must. This is the universal moral imperative on all of us to act: an imperative that the Pope has so clearly and passionately pointed in Laudato Si. The real question is not what happens in Paris, but what happens in response among all the people of the world.

We must challenge: those promoting continued dependence on fossil fuels and overconsumption generally. most especially, we must constantly challenge those still peddling denial of climate science, or denial of the urgency of radical action, or sowing confusion and doubt, or championing "national interest" over mutual action. Only forms of governance that prioritise the global ecosystem are relevant for our survival and future well-being now.

The cruelest irony is that those least able to absorb or deflect the earliest impacts will be those who are already poor, and bear least responsibility either historically or on any ongoing basis. Any state or social class or interest group that thinks it can isolate itself from these impacts for more than a small number of decades is simply deluded and contributing in high-impact ways to the foreclosure of the options for their children and future generations. Not to mention the other animals, life forms and ecosystems.

We have to find ways both to expand and secure food supply for all and also rapidly drive emissions of GHGs to zero or negative by beginning substantial and sustained emission reductions now. Agricultural emissions are especially important because they are dominated not by CO₂ but by methane, NO₂, etc, which are so-called "short lived" gases. A consequence is that we can get a much faster response - in terms of re-stabilising climate - from reducing agricultural emissions than from CO₂ reductions. As impacts become more severe, the pressure to find "fast" interventions will grow, so agricultural emissions will be particularly scrutinised. The science is clear that "universalising" the "western" dietary mix is not remotely compatible either with global nutrition, global heath, or rapid climate change mitigation.

Without such radical reductions what happens in the "real world" is that the climate system keeps on destabilising, with utter unconcern for mere human economic preferences. Physics trumps wishful thinking every time. A viable economic future now demands urgent and radical climate action in Ireland just as it does elsewhere. A localised, low energy, zero carbon, low-animal-diet society would be far safer, more secure and more resilient than the current dangerous path being followed by Ireland.

In any other context the level of risk confirmed by climate science would lead to immediate government action, regulation and legislation. The lack of 'official' action allows and encourages the public denial and avoidance.

This is the ultimate collective survival challenge. It is the fight of our lives. It will define our generation and the next - one of which will be the last generation if we fail. Failure cannot and must not be an option. The situation is too dire for fatalism or apathy to be our response.

Join us at 2pm on the 29th of November at one of the Protests For Climate Action this Sunday.


For further information, please call:
John Gibbons, An Taisce Climate Change Committee Tel: +353 87 233 2689
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 241 1995
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland


People's Climate Marches in:
Dublin assembling at Custom House Quay at 2.00pm.