The first of the series of conversations took place in Liberty Hall, Dublin, which David Begg referred to as the symbolic centre of trade unionism in Ireland, on March 16. A ‘full house’ of about 300 people heard David’s thought provoking welcome. Inputs from artists and musicians interspersed presentations and a round table conversation, which was followed by a lively question and answer session with the audience.
In his welcome David emphasised in particular the just transition to a low carbon economy, and the tension that exists between our current economic imperative to maximise shareholder value compared to the public interest.
The main theme of the evening was the challenge of engaging with the general public in the acceptance of climate change, and this provoked some interesting insights from both panelist and audience.
The notion of forgiveness compared to guilt and the total acceptance of all the uncertainty about the future, were advanced by Eamon Ryan. He felt that artists, who lived constantly with uncertainty, could be relied on much more to help us and went further to suggest that the Irish population were always open to big challenges. Why not use climate change to bring out the pride in them to be the world leaders in the transformation that is needed.
Collaboration and cooperation were themes that emerged from several speakers, as was the concept of keeping fossil fuels in the ground.
A less usual perspective was advanced by Fr Kennedy O’Brien who spoke of humans as co-creators of life – as divine beings and not mere economic units.
Terry Prone talked of the three groups needing conversion – the so-called Guardian readers; the unconvertible in the short term, and those ready for conversion now.
Either way her approach was to say that they can only be converted one by one.
It was a very interesting start to the series with all organisations involved being encouraged to stimulate conversations with their members.
Feasta is very well placed to respond.