April 2016

SAGE has been set up to do a number of things and one is to inform us here in Shankill of the possible consequences of Climate change for the village.

For many, especially those who live near the sea, there is the constant anxiety about the erosion of the cliffs. And often one hears the question why don’t ‘they’ do something about it.

The relevance of climate change to this question is twofold: first at a conservative estimate sea level is expected to rise by three feet within the next eighty five years, one generation, and that will greatly aggravate the erosion especially if we factor in the more extreme weather we can also expect.

But the other reason we should be worried about climate change is the extra rain we are now getting because if Mr. Clarke [RIP] an engineer was correct in a lecture he gave in the village, perhaps thirty years ago, the problem with the cliffs will get seriously worse. After much study and observation he had concluded that the cliffs, which are moraine material and consist of very fine sandy particles, are eroding because rain water falling inland is washing away the cliffs as it percolates down and drains to the sea, hence the fact that it is so hard to prevent the cliffs eroding as normal protection systems don’t work. But for us, here and now, as we get more and heavier rain, we can expect the cliffs to disappear even faster than they have been doing for the last one hundred years. If you look at the videos taken over Christmas of the collapse of the cliffs it is very clear that the cliffs are washing out rather than being undermined by the sea. This can be seen very clearly at the Cawbawn access point where the soil has vanished from behind the steps where it would never be reached by waves.

In view of this we must be vigilant that there is no development authorised within two or three hundred metres of the cliffs.

March 2016: Shankill Tidy Towns - Trees for All Eco Community Initiative

Shankill Tidy Towns and Crann-Trees for Ireland, in co-operation with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and the local community, have taken the initiative to plant more than 13,910 trees in the environs of the village – one tree for every resident (Census 2011).  SAGE fully supports this green project and encourages all residents to become involved by planting appropriate trees in appropriate places and for special occasions.                  

The objective of this ambitious project is to offset the carbon emissions of the community and to contribute positively to Ireland’s greenhouse gas abatement strategy. (A mature tree can absorb over 9 kg of CO2 in a single year, which equals the amount of CO2 produced by an average car travelling non-stop for 18,300 kilometres!). It is hoped that this project will be a nationwide initiative that Tidy Towns’ groups elsewhere will emulate.

Contact Shankill Tidy Towns at info@shankillmatters.com for further details. 

 

 

February 2016: What is Sage and what do we want to achieve?

SAGE is an organisation committed to raising awareness of, and taking action on, climate change. It was set up by representatives of Rathmichael, St. Andrew’s Crinken and St. Anne’s parishes, in response to the papal encyclical “Laudito ‘si”. The group welcomes people of all beliefs, and none, and is happy to include people who live outside the Shankill area. SAGE was launched on 22nd October and 60 people attended.

We believe that each of us have a responsibility to reduce our negative impact on climate. We must think globally but act locally. While the Paris Agreement is a great achievement, each country will voluntarily set its own target for CO2 reductions. However, we can follow cities, towns and villages throughout the world that aim to be carbon neutral, such as Adelaide, which aim to be carbon neutral in less than 5 years.

We need to set ourselves achievable targets and not attempt to do too much, while we gain experience. Consequently we have decided on a number of short term projects:

·         energy audits of the parish churches and halls, local schools and local businesses, followed by investment to reduce energy use

·         invite a group of houses to jointly apply for a grant to improve their energy efficiency

·         lobby politicians

·         encourage political support for Shanganagh Communities allotments

·         support the Eco Community Initiative in planting trees in Shankill

January 2016: A New Global Agreement on Climate Change.

World leaders reached an agreement in Paris in December to combat climate change. But was it enough to sustain the planet as a viable home for humanity? There was a lot done, but there is a serious amount more to do.

The biggest achievement was the adoption of the target of limiting the increase in the global temperature to 1.5 deg. C.  Anything more and the impact of climate change would be extremely damaging, even catastrophic. Leaders agreed a road map to achieve this including a commitment to renewable energy and phasing out of fossil fuels. Developing countries and human rights were also central to this plan. However, no definitive action was agreed. Much of the agreement is either aspirational or voluntary. Much more is required before it comes into effect in 2020.

As one of the countries with the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the world all citizens and organisations must play their part in enabling us to reach our fair share of the global targets. SAGE is an important initiative to achieve this. Community action must start at the local level and move to the national and global to achieve success.

SAGE Update – December 11th, 2015

Dear All,

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.

Political Lobbying: 

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.

 

General Election

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.

The Carbon Footprint Calculator

Most people are now well aware that we have a problem with Climate Change and that we need to do something about it but the questions are: how serious is the problem and what can I do?

There are many sites which give suggestions for what we can do as individuals to reduce our use of energy and for those who live in Shankill we have made suggestions through SCAN of small actions that we can all do to reduce our carbon footprint, but does it make much difference?

In order to help in understanding how big the problem is and what we might change in order to further reduce our carbon footprint we can calculate how much carbon dioxide we produce in a year and what aspects of our lifestyle contribute most. Although it is almost impossible for us, here in Ireland, to reduce our footprint to a sustainable level in the short term it is important that we understand how much we need to do, both as individuals and as a nation.

On average, each individual in Ireland has a carbon footprint which is 20 times bigger that someone living in Africa and when you add other sources of CO2 from which we benefit, such as roads, public lighting, water purification, most of which goes down the drain, sewerage treatment and transport we are nearly 100 times worse than an African.

The Link to the carbon footprint calculator will help to show how big is our personal footprint. It will be immediately clear that there are certain activities which contribute significantly and which we can control: Private transport and whether we could use public transport instead, how many air trips we make, the energy we use in our houses and the source and type of  food we eat.

It is critically important that we take control, as best we can, of our footprint, Firstly as a matter of justice, since we are the ones who do the polluting but those in the more fragile parts of the world are those who do the suffering as a result of climate change. And secondly because if we don’t the world’s climate will change so radically that life as we know it will become a thing of the past with Food shortages, large parts of the world becoming uninhabitable and increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events everywhere. Life becomes impossible if temperature and humidity prevent one from controlling body temperature.

According to the IPCC we have 12 years to reduce our carbon use by 45% and it must be phased out by 2050 if we are to have any chance of keeping climate change within bounds. Individually this will be extremely difficult to manage which is why it is essential that the Government takes a much more serious approach than they have done so far. It appears either that they do not understand the severity of the threat or that they are almost completely under the influence of short term commercial pressures.

These two articles give a useful introduction to the IPCC report and the challenges we all face:

The Economist

Renewable Energy World

Please use the footprint calculator and see what changes you can make to help in saving the world.

What taxes would you pay?

What taxes would you pay?

Before the crash, Ireland was over dependant on stamp duty and corporate taxes, so when the property market collapsed so did our tax base. Our low corporation tax means that multinationals with good accountants are paying their taxes in Ireland, and thereby depriving poorer countries of the taxes that should be paid in these counties. We are coming under pressure from both President Trump and the European Union to increase our corporation tax; so what taxes do you think we should be paying?