Climate week in Ireland: here’s what happened

Climate week in Ireland: here’s what happened

This week was a busy one for climate action in Ireland. From the Courts to the streets, citizens made their voices heard, pressing the government to take more ambitious actions to reduce our country’s impact on the climate and the environment. If you missed all the buzz, read on to find out what happened.

 

 

 DRESS TO PROTEST

On Wednesday evening, citizens, students and NGOs gathered at the Tara building to get creative. From two-year-olds to pensioners, students and young workers, all hands were on deck to rehearse and get properly dressed for Friday’s Global Climate Strike. Cosy atmosphere, lots of colours, and many good slogans were to be found. This bright gathering was co-hosted by Climate Case Ireland, Friends of the Earth Ireland and Swapsies, groups that will be on the front line for the following events of the week.

 

 

 

CLIMATE CASE IRELAND JUDGMENT

Earlier this year, Friends of the Irish Environment brought the Irish Government to Court in a bid to make the Government review its National Mitigation Plan (2017), alleged to be too weak to allow the country to achieve its national transition objectives set by the Climate Act (2015). 

This Thursday was the big day: the judgement was finally delivered. A huge crowd gathered in front of the Four Courts and took a group picture, showing the massive support to the action brought by Friends of the Irish Environment. Around 2PM, everyone went to Courtroom number 1 to hear the judgement’s reading. After an hour delay, some people went home, but the Courtroom was still filled with people from every age, every horizon and different countries, to hear the judge putting a lot of emphasis on the climate emergency and recognising that there is a climate crisis: “We must fully commit to climate change as a society”. But, when it came to the core of the case, the Court said it couldn’t conclude to a breach of Constitutional law. According to the judge, the Court must respect the principle of separation of powers. Therefore, the Judiciary power can’t dictate to the Executive the content of bills and must respect its policy choices and preferences, even if it adopts some really vague documents. “It’s not the Court’s role to second-guess the government opinion on this issue”. Regarding the alleged Human Right violation, the Court conceded there is actually a breach of the right to life protected by Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Right, yet not due to the Mitigation Plan itself.

The Climate Case team said it couldn’t announce whether or not they will appeal that decision until they received the judgement in written form. However, they assured that “they won’t rest until change is done”. The Climate case saga is to be continued… 

 

 

 

CLIMATE STRIKE

On Friday, young people around the world joined a global strike for climate action. Many adults showed their support and joined the thousands of marches happening in major cities around the globe. Several Irish cities went on strike, such as Cork, Galway and Limerick. In Dublin, the Greta effect worked, thousands of protesters assembled in front of the Custom House around noon. Many placards and banners were to be admired, some with powerful messages such as: “the climate is changing, why aren’t we?”, “seas are rising and so are we”. “What do we want? Climate action. And when do we want it? NOW.” were shouting citizens from various age while marching to Merrion Square so the Government would hear their demands. 

Students aged from 12 to 16 took to the stage in front of this massive crowd, reaffirming how important it is to take action now and talked about how much blood we already have on our hands. A mom went on stage too to express that parents were also there and supported the students. At 1.49PM, a minute of silence was observed for the dying planet. Ten minutes later, the protest was dismissed, and some students went back to school for the rest of the day. To the detractors of the strike, the students simply answered, “I would be in school if the planet was cool”, because “there is no planet B, neither C”.

 

 

Photos by Rachel Husson

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How innovation can help lower the aviation industry’s carbon emission

How innovation can help lower the aviation industry’s carbon emission

Greta Thunberg’s recent journey across the Atlantic by ship has brought the environmental shortcomings of aviation to light. Research shows that a large airport consumes as much electricity as a city of 100,000, as context there are only 3 cities in Ireland with over 100,00 people, Dublin, Cork and DúnLaoghaire. With such a sizable carbon footprint, changes must be made. According to the Landmark Climate Change Agreement in 2016, by 2027 international flights must offset emissions beyond 2020 levels.

As a result of the industry taking steps to be more efficient, due to innovation, C02 emissions have reduced by over 80% since the first jet aircraft in 1939. Through improvements in engines, and aircraft material, airlines have benefited in operational gains. As air travel is affected by climate change due to unpredictable weather, it’s in their best interest to combat climate change.  

However, the downward slope of plane emission tilts down too slowly to reach their carbon goals. Especially, considering the steep increase in passengers, as there is projected continual growth in those able to travel by commercial air and growth in those able to fly privately. It is estimated that passenger numbers will double over the next two decades. The slow-moving environmental steps currently being taken are not equally balanced to the fast-paced growth in customers the industry will be experiencing.

More extensive moves must be made, if aviation wishes to meet its environmental goals. An answer lies in the development of innovative ideas. Ideas that already exist but need further progress in order to make them commercially viable such as biofuels, new wing models that lower fuel usage, improving engines thereby making them less fuel guzzling, using lighter materials in construction of planes and making crafts more aerodynamic. The aviation industry has a lot of options available to help it take the necessary steps to meet its goals and greatly lessen its adverse effects on our planet, it just means that resources, time and minds must be committed to these options. 

The safety net provided by the potential to purchase credits in the carbon market, if airlines don’t manage to offset their emissions by their deadline, is a loophole that will not help their industry and will not help our planet. While the aviation industry has shown initiative by constantly lowering its carbon emission through developments in its planes and flight techniques, it still has a long way to go and a lot more effort to apply in order to meet its goal.

 

If you would like to read more about green aviation: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/urban-expeditions/transportation/green-aviation1/ 

 

Photo by Joel & Jasmin Førestbird on Unsplash

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox

Climate week in Ireland: here’s what happened

This week was a busy one for climate action in Ireland. If you missed all the buzz, read on to find out what happened.

How innovation can help lower the aviation industry’s carbon emission

Greta Thunberg’s recent journey across the Atlantic by ship has brought the environmental shortcomings of aviation to light. How planes can reduce their carbon emissions?

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Tarantino review: violence and violence against women

Tarantino review: violence and violence against women

Spoilers ahead!

In Tarantino’s new film, ageing actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) avenge the Manson family’s murder of Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) through a fictional retelling of the story.

 

I was dragged off to the cinema last week to see Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (OUaTiH). I wasn’t too excited because I’ve never been much of a Tarantino fan: I find his plots too basic and his violence too extreme. His films usually make me feel as though I’ve stopped to enjoy someone else’s car crash or gone to the modern version of a public execution. 

I found OUaTiHa bit more sophisticated than Tarantino’s usual gore-fests: his views on murder and gender politics were original. Recently the world – myself included – has been obsessing over serial killers and famous murders (eg. Netflix and Hollywood’s new documentaries about Ted Bundy and Madeleine McCann).

The problem is that mentally ill and violent people are being made glamorous. The stories are horrible but engrossing, and many murderers such as Manson and Bundy have attracted fan clubs – people drawn in by their notoriety and by the mystery that surrounds them. 

Tarantino does not romanticise his violence in the same way. He strips it of its mystery and shows it as it is: colourful, brutal and animal – almost healthy. There is no glorification of any murderer – neither Cliff Booth nor the Manson family are shown as admirable characters. 

Both Booth and the Manson family are sinister: scenes with Booth and his monster-like dog hint at his sordid past. There’s a rumour that he murdered his wife, and it’s believable. The Manson family is brilliantly sketched – Tarantino focusses particularly on their movements, giving them the terrifying physicality of a brainwashed but sexually intriguing army.

Tarantino has never been a sensitive director, but for me, this film was about himself. The title pays homage to his love of Westerns, but also describes the film as a love letter to the industry. There was a warmth to it: this is a director who has had a long and successful career, who has worked with actors dealing with the highs and lows of fame.

The film does what La La Land didn’t: it captures humanity in Hollywood. It’s also very much about its director’s trademark violence. He plays with his audience. The film covers short periods of time with a huge attention to detail and, unusually for Tarantino, follows a linear storyline. Except for the last 10 minutes, the film contains only hints of imminent violence. 

The film almost ends without bloodshed. Knowledge of the Charles Manson story adds to the suspense: we already know where and when the violence will be. There will be no surprises, it will be a simple and satisfying climax. But when the violence arrives, announced by Rick Dalton’s TV – “Here comes the moment you’ve all been waiting for!” – Tarantino takes back control. 

Instead of being true to historical events, Tarantino twists the story so that the murderers become the murdered. Every viewer in the cinema exacts revenge on an infamous group of killers, and enjoys it. The punchy music and the gags make watching two men murder three teenagers a hugely enjoyable experience.

Criticism of the film has honed in on Tarantino’s violence against women. It’s set in 1969, and an eloquent 10 year old gives a comical rant about feminism to a hungover Rick Dalton, who looks lost. She is later thrown on the floor at his suggestion. Booth heroically rejects the advances of a teenage member of the Manson family, because she is too young. Sharon Tate is given very few lines, which has surprised many of Robbie’s fans. Later on, two female Manson family members are viciously murdered by two men.

If looked at from a certain perspective, these facts add up to an uncomfortable portrayal of women. But I don’t think this is what the film was trying to say. Robbie’s character is powerful: it represents a new generation of hollywood and the gentle thrills of burgeoning fame. The 10 year old may have been inserted as a joke, but her character helps a gloomy Rick believe in himself: her speech has an impact. Booth’s rejection of the girl who almost forces herself on him simply confirms that more men should ask how old girls are before they sleep with them.

The murder of the two women at the end of the film seems almost “an eye for an eye”: in real life, these girls stabbed an entire household to death. And Cliff Booth is no hero – Tarantino does not justify his actions, he simply shows a version of humanity that is in us all. An animal desire for violence. 

 

Photo by SONY Pictures Entertainment

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STAND Student Podcast Episode 1: Student accommodation and the housing crisis

STAND Student Podcast Episode 1: Student accommodation and the housing crisis

Listen to the podcast on the following platforms:

Spotify

Anchor

Soundcloud

Castbox

In the first monthly  STAND Student Podcast, presenters Anson and Aine were joined by Lorna Fitzpatrick, President of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) and Cathal Curry, one of the founders of giveback.ie, to talk about the experience of the housing crisis from a student perspective.

As a new academic year starts, some students are more worried about finding a place to live than starting their classes:. In Ireland’s main cities, while student accommodation doesn’t meet the growing demand, other accommodation is often unaffordable for students who are on a tight budget.

A situation that the USI is trying to address by providing advice and other support services to students, as well as advocating for lower student accommodation prices: “The first thing is not to increase the rent on University accommodation, which is unfortunately not what we’ve seen. It is adding another layer of financial pressure for students,” explained Lorna Fitzpatrick. The president of the USI also said many students are victims of scams, and listed a few tips to avoid falling into these traps.

The housing crisis is affecting many people and families across Ireland. With giveback.ie, which was launched recently by young graduates, students can easily raise money for the Inner City Helping Homeless charity, and provide support to those who live on the streets. “By using our app every time they shop, up to 10% of the purchase price is donated to this charity. It’s an easy way for students to have a concrete impact,” said Cathal Curry.

WATCH: Lorna Fitzpatrick’s top tips to find a suitable accommodation to rent and avoid scams

Did the High Court of Ireland just take away our right to strike?

Did the High Court of Ireland just take away our right to strike?

It appears that every week now, a new Ryanair strike is imminent, stirring up memories of early August when the public was first fed the news that an Irish High Court injunction had simply shut down a strike by Irish Ryanair pilots. Of course, this was impacted by the complementary news that the equivalent strike among UK-based pilots due to take place at the same time was to go ahead. How could that be possible? Admittedly, in Ireland we don’t engage in industrial action to the same frequency as countries like France or Denmark, or apparently the UK in this case, but there must remain some sort of inherent, strike-culture mindset that would make it at least somewhat uncharacteristic for such an injunction to be passed in our little democratic republic?

The Judgment

On 21 August 2019, the Irish High Court passed an injunction to prevent any Irish-based pilots from striking later in that same week for issues regarding pay. The union responsible and the parent union of the Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association, FÓRSA, was requested to return to mediation tactics so as not to dismiss the final holiday plans of thousands of Irish travellers.

The Arguments

Ryanair, in seeking an injunction (a court order requiring a party to do, or preventing a party from doing, a specific action) to prevent the industrial action, claimed that the strike proposed was a breach of an agreement signed by the parties the previous year following mediation after industrial action last July and August. Ryanair made further claims that there was no valid trade dispute between the parties and that the dates chosen for the strike were decided upon especially to cause major business disruption, as well as to coincide with the Ryanair strike organised by UK-based pilots. At the same time, FÓRSA argued that the strike ballot was fully compliant with the rules of the union itself as well as with laws associated with the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. They continued to express  that they were in fact involved with a trade dispute which related to pay, adding that Ryanair had failed to engage with proposals made in March. Despite this, in his ruling Mr Justice McDonald stated that he was satisfied that Ryanair DAC was entitled to orders against FÓRSA in preventing the pilots from commencing a 48-hour strike at midnight on 22nd August.

However, Ryanair failed in a similar bid against UK pilots to secure an injunction against this strike. There was strong emphasis, in particular, on the fact that Ryanair was “foolish to bring this into the High Court rather than the negotiating room” (Brian Strutton, Secretary of the British Air Line Pilots’ Association). One might wonder why the legal right to strike was seemingly shut down in one case and welcomed in another, identical one.

But how was the injunction passed?

In Ireland, there is actually no general right to strike.There is simply a freedom to engage in industrial action under certain circumstances, which creates an immunity against any legal restrictions on these strikes, which means that trade unions are protected from prosecution if, and only if, the trade unions legally organise industrial action and if the action itself is lawful. This stems from the Industrial Relations Act, 1990,  in which any members of a trade union who participate in a lawfully balloted strike are granted immunity from the specific actions and/or torts (civil wrongs) that they commit, provided that some conditions are met. One of these, as mentioned with Ryanair, is that immunity is only granted to acts done in consideration or continuance of a trade dispute (a dispute between workers and employers, which relates to employment or non-employment and/or terms and conditions of employment).  Furthermore, even when such a dispute relates to the terms and conditions of employment or even the employment of an individual, if the agreed procedures for the resolution of individual grievances are not exhausted, immunities will fail to be granted. In the case at hand, FÓRSA argued that they were involved in a trade dispute and Ryanair DAC claimed that they were not – and they ultimately won.

Although the outcome of this case resulted in many happy holidaymakers able to jet off to enjoy their last moments of summer fun, it does encourage us to question what happens from here. The result is likely to leave a lasting imprint on our strike-culture here in Ireland – not only in legal precedent, but in the minds of the public themselves too.

Photo by Lucas Davies on Unsplash

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