Firstly many thanks again for attending the launch of SAGE on October 22nd. We would like to give you here an update of SAGE activities since then. Progress is mixed as we make the transition from talk and ideas to action.
The result of the negotiations in Paris gives real hope for the future. At the core of this will be real political will! It took courage to sign up for “well below 2 degrees Celsius”. It will take a lot more to deliver it.
There is a strong sense that public opinion played a big part in this agreement. The political leaders knew they would be castigated if they left Paris without an agreement. The lesson for us now is not to rest on our laurels after this achievement but to maintain, and even increase, the pressure to ensure there is no backsliding.
This is particularly the case for us in Ireland. The Taoiseach’s performance in Paris was disappointing, to say the least, shamelessly saying one thing for the international audience and, in effect, the opposite for his home audience. It could be argued that in the face of a general election the Taoiseach was never going to ruffle no feathers at home. But certainly, post-election, there will be a major job of work to be done to keep the incoming government “honest” on the climate change agenda.
So SAGE’s work is now more important than ever. Ireland can only meet its commitments post Paris by a sustained effort by all, at household, community, local and national level. We should fix 2016 as the year that Shankill set out to become a green community.
Meeting with Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD.
Following the launch we sent a letter to Minister Alan Kelly calling for more decisive action on climate change by the government, and copied this to our TDs. Mary Mitchell O’Connor asked to meet a SAGE delegation to discuss our letter.
The meeting with MMOC, held in the Dáil, went well. She has asked us to prepare a set of targets re climate change that we would like to see in the FG election manifesto. We said that we would await the outcome of the Paris COP talks before completing this and sending it to her.
Climate Change March.
Ten people, or so, participated in the Climate Change march in Dublin on Nov 29th. Kathie Davey made an eye-catching SAGE banner. See attached.
It is proposed to hold a political meeting in January to which we would invite all election candidates. We will focus the discussion on climate change as to broaden it would allow candidates to avoid the issue. We will endeavour to keep inputs from the candidates to 3 minutes. We will invite the local secondary schools to send some pupils along to join in the discussion with the candidates. The third week in January has been suggested for this event. We will issue a notice for this soon.
SCAN Article: We are preparing articles for the February issue of SCAN on SAGE and our proposed activities.
Strategic Planning: We discussed the need to have a well thought through narrative on what exactly SAGE is and what we hope to achieve. Such a statement would serve as the basis for our communications. It could be turned into an information leaflet.
It was proposed that we have a planning meeting, to be held on January 6th at 7.30pm (tbc) to work through this. Please pencil this in your diary if you are interested to participate.
Energy Saving and Generation: We have invited Ruth Buggie of SEAI, who spoke at the launch, to come to meet those interested in working on this issue. Eighteen participants at the launch expressed an interest in this. This meeting will take place on Tuesday 26th January at 7.30pm in the Resource Centre, St Anne’s. Ruth will put forward concrete suggestions as to how we can conserve energy as a community. This will be the beginning of a significant part of SAGE’s work in Shankill.
The Parish energy audits: These commenced on December 10th. These are being carried out with SEAI funding by Codexenergy. The audits will cover energy use in all church related buildings in the three parishes, including the schools. This is an important first step in developing a community wide approach to energy conservation. We will receive a report in early January. Each parish will decide which recommendations to pursue. Grants up to 50% of costs are available for such work.
Bio Diversity and Gardening: It was agreed that the Spring is the best time to start this. Diarmuid McAree, also of the Tidy Towns committee, will look at organising a Bio Diversity walk in February.
Networking: We agreed that in the New Year we should reach out to other communities that are engaged in similar initiatives as SAGE and visit/network with them.
Coordinating Committee: The members of the coordinating committee that started working on SAGE in the summer are Willie Morrough, Rose Mary McLaughlin, Diarmuid McAree, John Cross, Sharyn Smyth, Kathie Davey, Patrick Davey, Justin Kilcullen.
If you are interested in playing a role in this group please let us know.