Activists spotlight Irish famine as they call for climate action


Campaigners have urged the government to reflect on the country’s own history of famine as they call for more action to help countries facing food shortages exacerbated by climate change.

Activists held a protest outside statues of the Irish Famine Memorial in Dublin on the World Day of Climate Action.

The action was organized as governments continue to debate how they tackle global warming at the Cop27 summit in Egypt.

Edith McAuley Swann, five, holds a sign during the protest (Nick Bradshaw/PA)

The event at Custom House Quay was organized by the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition.

They used it to ask Taoiseach Micheál Martin to pledge more funding to tackle the problem and to support the creation of an international loss and damage financing mechanism to help countries most affected by climate change who are not of their doing.

Activists have called on the government to stand with countries like Somalia and Ethiopia that are experiencing food shortages brought on by the effects of climate change.

Siobhan Curran, Head of Policy and Advocacy at Stop Climate Chaos member organization Trocaire, said: “Given our history of colonization and famine, we have a unique opportunity to show solidarity with some of the poorest countries in the world that are suffering massive loss and damage from the climate crisis.

“We cannot let them pay the price for a crisis that is not their fault.

“That’s why we’re calling on Ireland to stand with communities in the global south – it’s time to respond to their calls for a loss and damage finance facility to help deal with the climate impacts that have been caused by broadcasts from wealthy countries like Ireland.”

Campaigners have called on Irish leaders to do more (Nick Bradshaw/PA)

Simon Murtagh, from Oxfam Ireland, added: “There is an urgent need for Ireland to express its support for the establishment of an international loss and damage financing mechanism without delay.

“The time for quiet diplomacy is over and, as the Taoiseach learned at Cop27 this week, 2.1 million people in Pakistan have lost their homes and are now living in the open without a source of food or water.There is no time for further delay.

Christian Aid Ireland policy and advocacy manager Ross Fitzpatrick said the issue of loss and damage is at the very heart of climate justice.

“Developing countries cannot be left to foot the bill and expect to pay the huge costs of environmental disasters caused by a climate crisis that they least created,” he said.

Protesters called on those gathering at COP27 to set up a loss and damage funding mechanism (Nick Bradshaw/PA)

“Rich, polluting countries must take advantage of COP27 to repay their ecological debt and commit to providing new and additional financing for loss and damage.”

Karol Balfe, Chief Executive of ActionAid Ireland, said: “Communities and countries on the frontlines of climate change are pinning their hopes on COP27 to deliver the aid they urgently need to recover from disasters.

“As the climate crisis deepens, a new UN funding mechanism to cover loss and damage from floods, droughts and cyclones would be a game-changer by helping vulnerable countries avoid deepening debt and poverty.

“It is shocking that after decades of climate negotiations, there is still no financial support provided to countries affected by climate change.

“The cost of inaction has a detrimental impact on the lives of women and girls who are affected for years, decades and even generations to come.”

(Nick Bradshaw/PA)

Stop Climate Chaos policy coordinator Dr Brid Walsh added: “The vast majority of loss and damage has been caused by emissions from rich countries in the North, which are responsible for 92% of excess emissions.

“Recent IPCC reports have issued a long list of warnings about the cost to people and our planet of not taking immediate, deep and rapid climate action.

“At COP27, countries should significantly increase the flow of climate finance to help the poorest countries cope with the impact of rising global temperatures.

“Ireland needs to do the same, and this funding should be new and additional to existing funding.”

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