Feasta’s activities are based around a number of themes, all of which are inter-connected. For a broad overview of the relationship between our different activities and our overall mission, please see our theory of change. Our 2018 Annual Report summarises our most recent activities.
In 2019 a podcast series called Beyond the Obvious was launched, with a plan for six episodes covering a range of Feasta-related topics.
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 2019 has three major strands. One of these is Cap and Share, a system for eliminating fossil fuel use over the next three decades while promoting social justice and equity. Cap and Share provides the framework for our CapGlobalCarbon initiative. This 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. The campaign was launched at the COP-21 in 2015.
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. We are delighted at the 2017 fracking ban within Ireland (brought about with the support of some of our members) but remain highly concerned that fracked gas is till being imported into the country.
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 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.
Many Feasta members are advocates and activists for universal basic income and in 2018 they formed a Feasta Basic Income group. This group is particularly focussed on the role that basic income can play in achieving a sustainable society and economy, both in Ireland and globally.
The group hosted an event called ‘We need to talk about basic income’ at Cloughjordan on Sept 23. They also met with members of Basic Income Ireland and the Green Party on Oct 25 at Leinster House in Dublin. Among other issues, they discussed the connections between BI and the idea of degrowth, the tie-ins between BI and alternative tax bases, and the desirability or otherwise of pilot programmes. Articles by groups members can be found here.
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. Recent activity includes producing a widely-circulated report of a conference organised by the International Movement for Monetary Reform in November 2018.
Feasta’s Water Commoning Group was formed in late 2016 and aims to extend the debate about water policy in Ireland and to establish water commoning as something worthy of serious and critical consideration. You can read more about it here.
In 2015 a group was established with the aim of developing alternatives to GDP as a measure of wellbeing, in collaboration with the FEST institute and Albert Weber institute. A feasibility study was published in 2017. You can find out more about their initiative here.
Many Feasta members are advocates for a basic income, and in 2018 a Basic Income Group was formed to explore the potential relationship between basic income, sustainability and social justice. More information on the group can be found here.
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.
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 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
– Michael Leyden
– Mark Garavan
– 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, the European Commission and the UNFCCC.
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.