ELECTION DIARY Feb 8th: How to make Climate Change a doorstep issue

Published by Ian Carey on

February 8th 2016

GN Election diary

The standard line for candidates who want to dodge environmental issues is to say: ‘I’m not hearing this on the doorstep.’

How this country deals with climate change and our environment is absolutely essential for a fairer recovery and a better future for everyone. That’s why making sure you bring up theses issues on the doorstep is essential.

One staff member of An Taisce annoyed by missing candidates is determined to get her point across and so posted a letter to canvassers on her door. Here it is:

doorstep issue

Alannah Ni Cheallaigh, who works with An Taisce’s Climate Change Committee, tells it in her own words:

 I, like many people who are concerned about climate change, sometimes feel powerless in the face of it. Sometimes it feels as though you’re the only one at a party on the tracks who notices the train careering towards everyone. Well it turns out that I’m not the only one. There are more and more of us to whom the reality of climate change has become abundantly clear. Maybe there are enough of us now who see what’s wrong to get us out of the path of danger?

There’s a lot of buzz around this election regarding the centenary of 1916, but much of it is being used to flourish political agendas and manifestos which ignore the principle challenge of our own time! Striving for Ireland’s independence was not only about gaining freedom from a foreign power, but from a system which left the majority powerless. If we don’t start to decarbonise our economy immediately, we will be contributing to climate change and all of its physical and social ramifications, which we and those after us will be powerless to reverse. Our forbears wanted their children to grow up in a world better and fairer than the one they had been born into. In pursuit of supposed progress we have drifted off course of that aim.

We are so used to hearing ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ followed up by ‘threat to future generations’ that we fail to realise that that was the line 20 years ago. The adults, as well as young people and children of this time are faced with a teetering planet they are ill-equipped to cope with. Climate change will materially alter the lives of every person of this country over the coming decades. I, being 24, hope to see a few more of those yet and if I have children I want to believe that they will not be born into a world plummeting blindly towards climate chaos. That’s why I can’t sit by and hope that through some epiphany the next government will realise what’s at stake and act accordingly.

Those people with an ear close to the ground may have been the first to notice the signals; but by now they are so loud that it should be impossible for anyone to ignore, though some still try. 2015 was the hottest year on record as predicted by mainstream climate science. Extreme weather events are now more likely the world over and Ireland is set to become warmer and even wetter – something we didn’t imagine possible until the floods of this winter. If we had asked for an example of why we need to adapt to the climate change already in the pipeline, we couldn’t have been given a clearer one. More and more people are beginning to understand what’s at stake, so why haven’t I received a single manifesto through the door which mentions climate change, never mind a robust plan of action?

Perhaps it’s not clear that Irish people care about climate change? We always hear politicians say that climate change is not a doorstep issue. Well that time is gone, there it is on my doorstep now!  This small personal initiative was born out of frustration that I kept missing canvassers at my door while I was at work, so there was no opportunity to draw their attention to my concerns. Then I wondered how many of us who care are not able to be heard for similar reasons, or because we can’t phrase the question when put on the spot?

That’s why I set up ‘My Doorstep Issue’ facebook page, to give people access to a printable note about their climate concerns to local canvassers. It also provides a platform for people to share a photo of their door with the note attached, so that we can demonstrate to potential candidates that this is a doorstep issue for people in constituencies all over the country. If we don’t demand action to prevent and safeguard us against dangerous climate change, who will?

My aim with this small initiative is to remind everyone that we are not powerless. Every person; be they hairdresser, scientist, clerical worker, student, retiree, teacher, IT worker or unemployed – irrespective of age, religion, wealth or status can be part of this. We have the power to demand decarbonisation from our own government, support it through small changes in our own lives and to inspire others.

This initiative is for everyone who has ever felt concerned about climate change, but not known what they can do. We may be small but we are many and this is one opportunity that we have to play our part in avoiding dangerous climate change.

So Canvassers, if you’ve missed the writing on the wall then you’d better read the writing on our doorsteps: if you want our votes, we want to hear your robust plan for mitigating and adapting to climate change.


[x_button shape=”square” size=”regular” float=”none” href=”https://www.facebook.com/mydoorstepissue” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover”]Click here to visit Alannah’s facebook page and make climate change a doorstep issue in your house[/x_button]

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Ian Carey

Ian is the editor of the Green News. He works as Communications Manger with the Irish Environmental Network.