By Sadhbh Hendrick
A public lecture series on climate justice, co-hosted by the Ryan Institute and the Irish Centre for Human Rights, has commenced in NUI Galway, with the first of the free public lectures on the theme of Climate Justice having taken place on Monday, 23 September. This series features prominent activists and marked a week of global action on climate change.
Professor Siobhán Mullally, Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway, was involved in the co-ordination of the lecture series and spoke of the importance of climate justice in today’s world stating, “Climate justice is an urgent equality and human rights concern. Human rights lawyers and advocates need to hold states to account for the continuing failure to meet our legal obligations on climate change, and our obligations to future generations to address this issue now. We need to use the tools of human rights law, and the skills of human rights movements, to mobilise and to demand change, urgently and without further delay. Environmental destruction is a human rights issue of our age”.
Director of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, Charles Spillane, who was also involved in the landmark event, said: “The 500 researchers in NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute are all deeply engaged in research and innovation activities to transition to a more sustainable future. Climate change and climate justice transitions are central to such sustainability pathways in Ireland and globally. Sustainability transitions will require transformative changes at scale across our societies and economies”.
“It has been estimated that the richest 10% of the world’s population are responsible for almost half of total lifestyle consumption emissions. At the other end of the income scale, the poorest 50% of people on the planet are responsible for only 10% of total lifestyle consumption emissions. While contributing the least to causing the climate change problem, it is the poorest & marginalised in our societies that are the most vulnerable to climate change impacts and shocks”.
Professor Spillane added: “As the world’s leaders assemble for the Climate Action Summit in New York, there are major action challenges to be addressed relating to distributive justice to strengthen the resilience of the poorest and marginalised in society. While ‘leaving no one behind’ and ‘reaching the furthest behind first’ has been a clarion call of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs, it remains to be seen what scale of climate justice actions will be deployed by our governments and institutions towards such ambitions”.
Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President of NUI Galway, opened the event. Speakers at the first event included Niamh Garvey from Trócaire, Sadhbh O’Neill from Climate Case Ireland and Stop Climate Chaos, Green Party European Election Candidate Saoirse McHugh, Movement of Asylum seekers in Ireland Representative Bulelani Mfaco, Eddie Mitchell, campaigner for ‘Save Leitrim‘ and ‘Love Leitrim‘, and Kaluba Banda, Irish Aid Fellow and candidate on NUI Galway’s award-winning MSc Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security.
The event coincides with several key events in Ireland and internationally, including the United Nations Climate Action Summit, the Global Climate Strike and the High Court judgment in Friends of the Irish Environment CLG v The Government of Ireland, Ireland and the Attorney General (‘Climate Case Ireland’).