Friday, January 20, 2012

Robinson: Science and Climate Justice

Mary Robinson delivered a lecture on Climate Justice at UCC's Centre for Global Development this week in which she encouraged citizens to put pressure on world leaders to take the issue of climate change seriously.

The former Irish President and and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights also took the opportunity to highlight the recent Young Scientist Exhibition as a way of energising young people about science and technology.

Speaking of these young scientists she said, "They are the ones who will be the decisions makers, mothers, fathers and leaders in 2050 when the impacts of climate change are being acutely felt. They didn’t cause the problem, we who came before are responsible for that, but the burden of dealing with it will fall squarely on their shoulders".

Robinson also highlighted the news that NUI Maynooth's Combat Diseases of Poverty Consortium are to organise a young scientists exhibition in Tanzania: "Students there have an even more immediate need to understand the impacts of climate change and to find solutions to the problems it creates. Schools, universities and colleges need to equip students from Cork to Dar es Salaam with the skills they will need to navigate their way through an ever changing world."

"get young people energized and involved in science and technology – so that they can shape the world of 2050 and make it a better place to live" Now President of the Mary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice (MRFCJ), Robinson was enthusiastic about upcoming science events in 2012. "In May the World Congress on Water, Climate and Energy takes place in Dublin and in July, Dublin will be the City of Science hosting Europe’s largest science conference, the Euroscience Open Forum. A programme of science-related events and activities are being held throughout the year across the island of Ireland to showcase the latest advances in science and technology and to stimulate and provoke public interest, excitement and debate about science and technology. I hope this can build on the work of the Young Scientist Exhibition to get young people energized and involved in science and technology – so that they can shape the world of 2050 and make it a better place to live."

Mary Robinson went on to outline her views on climate justice subsequent to the COP17 meeting at Durban in December. "Make no mistake about it", she said "we ignore the threat posed by climate change at out peril".

Of the meeting in Durban she said there was a noticeable lack of urgency within the negotiations to begin with: "In the first week I was struck by the complete lack of urgency in the formal negotiations, contrasting with the real urgency being voiced on the street, by scientists and by organisations representing the most vulnerable communities from all over the world."

"Ireland has the potential to make a significant contribution in this area" One of the key outcomes Robinson noted in her speech was the beginnings of bringing the issues of food security and agriculture into the work of the COP.

"In 2012 Parties will consider how best to support a process to address the impacts of climate change on food security and the role of climate smart agriculture in finding ways to grow food under changing climatic conditions while safeguarding the environment and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Ireland has the potential to make a significant contribution in this area drawing on domestic agriculture expertise and our international work on food and nutrition security."

Robinson said that the door was now open for a new international and inclusive legally binding agreement on climate change. "[Durban] was not the breakthrough needed to solve the problem now, but no one really expected that. Neither was it a failure; in fact it lays down a clear challenge to all the countries of the world – and particularly those responsible for the worst emissions – to get their act together before it is too late."

You can read the full text of Mary Robinson's speech here (pdf).

Image: Mary Robinson speaking at UCC (Image: Tomas Tyner, UCC)


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