Feasta’s activities are based around a number of themes.
The Climate group has as many members in Britain as it has in Ireland with others around the world. It is currently one of the most active groups within Feasta.
Its work in 2016 has four major strands. The first of these is the CapGlobalCarbon campaign, which is a proposal for non-governmental actors to create a new global system to (a) make sure the necessary reductions in total global carbon emissions are achieved and (b) do so in a way that reduces inequality. The system would operate as a back-up to the inter-governmental negotiations. A delegation from the group attended the COP-21 summit in Paris in December 2015 and presented a side event there on Saturday 5 December, to mark the launch of the campaign.
The second, complementary strand is the Climate Litigation Campaign, which follows a similar strategy to the successful recent campaign by Urgenda in the Netherlands: taking legal action to ensure that fossil fuel extraction is capped. Feasta climate group members, in collaboration with a number of other organisations are working towards taking legal action against a fossil fuel company for wrongdoing in consequence of their past and present contribution to the already dangerous levels of greenhouse gases that have accumulated in the atmosphere and their plans for unrestrained production in the future.
A third strand provides support for the anti-fracking movement. In recent years Feasta members in Britain and Ireland have been concerned to raise awareness of the implications of “extreme energy” – particularly the dangers of the oil and gas industry seeking to extract gas from shale by the use of high volume, high pressure hydraulic fracking. Fortunately it has been possible to draw on a growing volume of good quality scientific information – peer reviewed studies of the very negative public health, environmental and climate implications of developing unconventional gas fields drawn from the US experience and that of Australia.
Finally, Feasta and its members took a central part in helping to organise and participate in the so-called ‘Climate Conversations’ held during 2014-15. A number of organisations came together to organise this series of conversations and debates in various locations in Dublin. Feasta’s Willi Kiefel contributed significantly to the creation of the Conversations, the themes, structure and above all the insistence on making it as inclusive as possible. This seemed very effective and there was a good response, so much so that all partners expressed a wish to continue with the Conversations after the 2016 General Election in Ireland. You can read Willi’s impressions here.
Feasta members have been involved with coordinating the People’s Energy Charter. PEC is calling for comprehensive public participation in the National Energy Transition Plan. We have been engaging with the national consultation for the white paper on energy which was published in December 2015: Irelands Transition to a Low Carbon Energy Future. There is no doubt that the policy aspires to greater public participation in the decisions about powering Ireland.
We analysed the way the energy policy system operates in Ireland and highlighted many changes that need to be made in order to create an energy transition that should be acceptable by the people of the country. The bottom line is change can only be done by including communities in making the decisions – a key transition concept Feasta has endorsed for many years. The new energy policy for 2015-2030 is more of a framework for change with wider consultation intended on specific items. There will also be a national energy forum where stakeholders will get to have a say in Irelands energy transition. The need for dialogue and greater consultation were acknowledged.
The Feasta Currency group believes that the fact that conventional money is issued as a debt means that economies have to grow continually if their money supply is not to contract and cause a financial breakdown. This continual growth is clearly unsustainable and so the group has been exploring ways in which money can be put into circulation without anyone needing to borrow it first. The group hosts a lively Facebook discussion group with 95 members from around the world. Its current interests include the development of innovative capital financing options for renewable energy projects with the goal of avoiding the burden of compound interest and redirecting the 45% saved into more productive first use; and the visualisation of data to add impactful insight to the flow of money in a specific sub-economy.
The group also believes that borrowing to buy a house or to finance a business will prove disastrous for both parties if incomes shrink as energy supplies contract as a result of oil peak. It has therefore been exploring new ways of providing finance and some of its ideas can be found in the book Fleeing Vesuvius. The group is particularly keen to get membership enquiries from people wanting to help put these ideas into practice.
The Education Group has an excellent track record in developing and implementing education initiatives. The group’s activities are wide-ranging and innovative – organising a conference on third-level sustainability policy, creating a website & radio show targeted at teenagers, and developing a community education toolkit. To get involved or for more information contact the Education Group.
The work of the Food Security Group is currently (as of 2016) focused on the development of A Framework for Analysing Agricultural Policy Options for Mitigating Climate Change. This work has culminated in the production of a discussion document which analysed a wide variety of policy recommendations through the lenses of economic viability, social viability, climate mitigation, climate adaptation, environmental sustainability, food security, and resilience. The potential impacts of initiating 11 different policy approaches will be scrutinized through these criteria. The policies we will assess range from ones which are environmentally (e.g. Biochar, No-till) and economically-focused (e.g. Agriculture 2020 Food & Fishery), to ones that are more health-based (e.g. Meatless Monday).
Possible conclusions will include ways in which a policy can shift in order to address all target areas. Having balanced policy recommendations that prioritize mitigating and adapting to issues caused by climate change in Ireland is the overall goal of this project. Megan MacLeod and Bruce Darrell are hoping to create a forum or event in order to receive feedback about their methodology and possible impacts of specific policies in the future.
Feasta member Féidhlim Harty, who has an environmental consultancy based in County Clare, produced a report for the IEN in December 2015 on closed-loop agriculture: farming practice that recycles all nutrients and organic material back to the soil that it grew in. Féidhlim argues that a shift to this type of agriculture would not only stop the waste of nutrients to watercourses as pollution, it would also stop the high energy inputs needed for artificial nitrogen production and could go a significant way towards reducing overall agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. Closed loop agriculture has direct benefits for biodiversity also, within the soil itself, in the aquatic environment, and within the context of climate change.
The Risk-Resilience Network’s focus is on how to protect our welfare given existing and coming constraints (e.g. food security, energy and governance). It investigates the relationship between the complexity (interdependence, speed of processes, concentration) and de-localisation of the globalised economy and our vulnerability to systemic shocks and chronic stresses. Reports include Catastrophic Shocks Through Complex Socio-Economic Systems:A Pandemic Perspective, which is based on a paper by David Korowicz that was commissioned by USAID and presented in Manila in January 2013.
Earlier Feasta projects include Smart Taxes, which has the aim of developing policy options to reform fiscal and other financial and monetary mechanisms in Ireland so as to deliver environmental, social and economic sustainability, and Carbon Cycles and Sinks, whose goal is to develop policies which will enable the Irish land mass to become a carbon sink rather than a source of greenhouse emissions.
The Working Groups are a great way to get active, meet other Feasta members and make a difference. For more information on a particular group, check out other sections on the website or contact the convenor. Here is a list of all groups, and the name of the convenor for each group:
– Brian Davey and Caroline Whyte
– Davie Philip
– Mark Garavan
– Davie Philip
– Michael Leyden
– Bruce Darrell
– Elizabeth Cullen
– Graham Barnes and Phoebe Bright
In the years since its inception, Feasta has organised a wide range of events, including seminars, international conferences and workshops. You can read about these in more detail on our events section. You can also download videos of many of our lectures and seminars from our multimedia page.
We have also published various books and briefings concerning the environment and economics. These are all available for free download from this website, as are a series of submissions we have made to the Irish and UK governments.
Within Ireland Feasta also engages in the Irish Environmental Network (IEN) and the Environmental Pillar of Social Partnership.
The IEN is an organisation which was set up to distribute funding (mostly from the Environment fund) to member organisations. It also helps organisations to increase their capacity by training, helping with media work and facilitating cooperation on various pieces of work, and acts as a support on issues of relevance to many or all organisations (for example it campaigned successfully for the natural environment to be included in the National Lottery Bill, and will engage in relation to the new Lobbying Bill.)
The Pillar is a structure whereby a range of national environmental NGOs cooperate together on policy issues according to their interests. Feasta has been involved in the Environmental Pillar’s Climate and Energy Working Group. The group has been engaging in 2013 particularly in the process for the development of a Climate Change Bill. It has also been discussing the international negotiations and proposing that Ireland builds on the work started with the UNEP Building the Climate Change Regime project. Upcoming work includes reacting to the European Commission’s proposals for the international climate regime from 2020 and for developing EU targets for 2030.