Feasta climate weekend – April 28th to 30th

Programme outline

Members from Britain and Ireland meet to discuss current thinking on the climate crisis and draw up the group’s programme of work for the next year. Attendance is limited to 20 and only two or three places are still available.

Thursday 28th April:

Two public lectures on the theme

Low External Input Agriculture – the only road to a sustainable food supply.

Venue: The McLelland Room, The Central Hotel, Exchequer Street, Dublin 2.

Session 1: Organic farming’s role in improving food security and combatting climate change.

11.00 Registration

11.30 Gundula Azeez: How organic methods can lower greenhouse emissions and reduce reliance on fossil energy

12.30 Questions and discussion

13.00 – 1400 Lunch

Gundula Azeez has been working on agricultural policy for over sixteen years. After five years with the British National Farmers’ Union (NFU), including two years in its Brussels office, she spent a year at the European Commission working on agricultural trade and other issues. She then worked as the Soil Association’s Policy Manager for nine years. She is the author of the Soil Association’s reports “Soil Carbon and Organic Farming” (November 2009, available on the internet) and “The biodiversity impacts of organic farming”. She co-authored the Soil Association’s report on the impact of GM crops in North America, “Seeds of Doubt”, and was an adviser to the British government’s economic review of GM crops.

Session 2: Biochar’s role in increasing fertility and reducing fertiliser use

14.00 Witold Kwapinski: Biochar research in Ireland

14.20 David Friese-Greene: Using biochar on small farms in rural India.

15.00 Questions and discussion.

15.30 Session ends.

Dr. Witold Kwapinski is a Process and Chemical Engineering lecturer at the University of Limerick and a member of the Carbolea reseach group there. His research concentrates on processes such as pyrolysis, gasification and acid hydrolysis which convert plant material into fuels, chemicals and substances such as biochar. He designed a pilot-scale gasifier already in operation at the University.

David Friese-Greene In pursuit of his aim ‘education through communication’ David has made documentary films about research projects thoughout the world, including some for the British Antarctic Survey. He has a degree in ecology and animal behaviour,and in 2003 he began to work with an Indian NGO, SCAD (Social Change and Development) which is based in Tamil Nadu. For the past three years he has been heavily involved in a project to establish the extent to which biochar can enable farmers in the districts in which SCAD works to improve their soil’s fertility and lessen their need for artificial fertilisers. He has just returned from India after the installation of an Australian-made pyrolyser to produce biochar.

SCAD has strong Irish connnections because it has been receiving assistance from Gorta for the past fifteen years. In particular, Gorta has been funding horticultural development as an alternative to traditional rice and cereal farming since these give poor results in the low rainfall areas in which SCAD works.

Admission to a single session – 10 euro. Admission to both sessions, 15 euro. These fees are included in the fee for the full weekend (see below).

If you will be attending the first session and would like lunch with the speaker at the hotel, please let Feasta know by sending an e-mail to info@feasta.org so that we reserve enough space in the restaurant. Soup and sandwiches will cost 8.50 euro. and if other options are available, we will tell you when you register at 11am. This lunch is not covered by the fee for the weekend.


15.45 Depart by minibus for Cloughjordan

18.00 Arrival in Cloughjordan. Participants are taken to their accommodation.

18.30 Meal

19.30 Public meeting: The Climate Crisis: What Next?. Presenting main climate issues (2 hours), The Methodist Hall, Cloughjordan. The international negotiations on a global climate treaty seem to be making very little progress. After a review of the current situation and the reasons for it, the meeting will explore alternative proposals for dealing with the situation which do not simply involve restricting fossil fuel use. Speakers will include David Healy, a former ministerial policy adviser, Richard Douthwaite and Brian Davey of Feasta, and Gundula Azeez, a former policy adviser to the Soil Association. Admission: 5 euros (included in the fee for the full weekend). Enquiries to info@feasta.org or to (0)86 364 2728.


Friday and Saturday – Climate group meeting proper. Programme being developed by Brian Davey. Subjects to be discussed include:

  1. The book the group is preparing on climate policy, including Cap and Share. This should be nearly ready to go to the designer by the time of the meeting. Chapters have been written by Richard Douthwaite, Justin Kenrick, Nick Bardsley, Laurence Matthews, John Jopling and Brian Davey with part chapters from James Bruges, Caroline Whyte and Mike Thomas.
  2. The role that Cap and Share might play in enabling Britain, Ireland and the EU to meet their 2020 emissions reduction targets. Both Britain and Ireland have new or newish governments and we have had personal dealings with the EU climate commissioner on C&S.
  3. John Jopling and Laurence Matthews’ plans to launch the Global Climate Trust initiative at the UNFCCC meeting in Durban, South Africa in November.
  4. The present state of the review of global-level climate solutions being carried out by the World Resources Institute for the United Nations Environment Programme as a result of a Climate group initiative and funding from the Irish government. Feargal Duff, who has been the driving force behind the initiative, will give a report so that we can decide on our future involvement. There is a page on the WRI website about the review at http://www.wri.org/project/moving-unfccc-forward
  5. Whether the group should develop proposals for dealing with emissions other than fossil fuel CO2 and also for the development of sinks. Some of this work is already being done by the Carbon Cycles and Sinks project but we need to have members who have made themselves experts on the other drivers of climate change so that we can develop proposals for, say, dealing with nitrous oxide, or black carbon, or sulphate aerosols. Other members should be able to write and comment on the potential effects of afforestation, changing grazing methods or the use of biochar. I can’t think of any NGO which is attempting to develop a co-ordinated set of proposals for climate action in this way. It would be a major project requiring funding and a good co-ordinator. Are we up for it?

Saturday evening – Public meeting, The Methodist Hall, Cloughjordan, on organic farming and building a resilient, sustainable food supply. Speakers: Gundula Azeez, Martin Peck (organic sheep farmer in Wales) and Joe Condon, an organic beef producer from South Tipperary. This meeting will be in partnership with the various Irish organic associations.

Sunday morning, May 1st : Final session ending at 10.00am. Transport will be provided to take those wishing to leave immediately to Moneygall to catch the 10.27am express bus to Dublin. This arrives in time for those travelling to England to catch the 14.30 sailing of the Dublin – Holyhead ferry. Those not needing to leave immediately can catch later buses as these run every hour.

Cost of weekend: 150 euro.

This covers all meals in Cloughjordan, three nights’ accommodation there, admission to the public meetings in Dublin and Cloughjordan and a seat in the minibus from Dublin to Cloughjordan. It does not cover the cost (approx 10 euro) of the express bus back to Dublin.

The meals in Cloughjordan will all be vegetarian. Please bring your own wine or buy it in the village.

Note: Feasta is a forum for exchanging ideas. By posting on its site Feasta agrees that the ideas expressed by authors are worthy of consideration. However, there is no one ‘Feasta line’. The views of the article do not necessarily represent the views of all Feasta members. 

One Reply to “Feasta climate weekend – April 28th to 30th”

Comments are closed.