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Climate activist Theresa O'Donohue is attending COP26 this week.

Local action crucial in climate change battle says Clare activist

BUYING local produce is a great way of cutting emissions, supporting local producers and growing the rural economy, according to a North Clare climate change activist.

In an interview with The Clare Champion before she attends a global environment conference in Glasgow this Thursday, Theresa O’Donohue stressed community action is the best approach in the transition away from fossil fuels.

However, the Lisdoonvarna environmental campaigner said people also need to become politicised and challenge the system to demand the change that is necessary, as collaboration and participatory democracy are essential tools in the transition process.

She cites the example of Moy community farm in North Clare, which cuts down on food miles, provides livelihoods and keeps money in the local area.

Market towns and villages, supplied locally, would contribute to a thriving county while cutting emissions.

She believes people should set up a Sustainable Energy Community with an SEAI mentor who will help create an energy master plan for your area.

Then people can avail of the grants to retrofit homes, farms, businesses and schools. They can consider establishing an energy co-op or company to invest in the energy transition, retrofitting, electricity generation and microgrids.

All profits remain within the local community. Lorraine Power in the Clare Local Development Company can assist communities to seriously tackle climate change in their locality.

She proposed Clare people should become engaged in local environmental issues by contacting the Clare Environmental Network or Clare PPN for help in finding a group that best suits their interests.

“Clare is one of the top counties in Ireland set to experience increased flooding with recent reports estimating that 13% of all homes and businesses will be affected by flooding by 2050. What we do now will determine the severity of that flooding and how many homes and businesses will be affected.”

Ms O’Donohue, who has UN observer status with the NGO Feasta, Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability, will attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) on Thursday.

The North Clare activist is studying Climate Change at DCU and is a cofounder of Clare PPN and FutureProof Clare. She stressed negotiations that ensure the leader’s intentions made at COP26 are adopted and workable are vital.

The following themes are set in the programme: finance, energy, youth and public empowerment, nature, adaptation, loss and damage, gender, science and innovation, transport, cities, regions and built environment. She would like all countries to deliver on their promises, committing to divesting from fossil fuels and keeping them in the ground.

On the first day of COP26, the UN released a super video of a dinosaur addressing the conference. In fabulous Jurassic park style, he advised humanity to stop funding fossil fuels, likening it to dinosaurs funding meteors.

On the second day, eighty countries had agreed to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030. More than 100 countries, including Brazil, agreed to stop deforestation by 2030. As well as both of these promises, Ireland committed to contribute €225 million to developing countries by 2025. India pledged to reach net zero by 2070.

Ms O’Donohue wants people to stop supporting fossil fuel companies, projects and infrastructure. “Every minute the world gives fossil fuel companies €9.5million. Imagine if that money was invested in climate action and a just transition. Why are we funding what is destroying our environment?

“Over the course of 26 COPs, years of unkept promises, with emissions continuing to rise, this COP does nothing for my confidence in governments.

“I sincerely believe that it is up to the public to put pressure on governments to fulfil the promises they make. This COP has given me more confidence in the capacity of people to identify the greenwash, question the inaction and demand the necessary system changes we need.

“The shift in media focus and strong language being used demonstrates that some media outlets are waking up to the facts and are not afraid to share them.”

Meanwhile, the Limerick Cop26 coalition event will take place at 12pm on November 6 at Bedford Row.

The event will feature representatives from campaign groups who will speak about local environmental issues such as the proposed construction of a liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal in Ballylongford, Co. Kerry, the proposed construction of new data centres in Limerick and Ennis.

The recent decision by the EPA to grant Irish Cement a new operating licence which will allow the company to burn used tyres a year at its Limerick plant is also expected to be addressed.

By Dan Danaher

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