Climate Change

Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE), a network of environmentalists and conservationist committed to protecting Ireland's environment, first brought in Earth Hour in 2008. Inspired by what he thought was a clever idea to raise awareness about issues relating to climate change, Director Tony Lowes has overcome many challenges to make Earth Hour in Ireland a huge success. They have managed to engage the people of Ireland and establish Earth Hour on the Irish Environmental calendar. Schools, individuals, and businesses are organising their own Earth Hour events.

FROM THE WWF EARTH HOUR SITE:

An Earth Hour Innovator: Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE),


Earth Hour is open to everybody. We invite people, businesses, governments and organizations to switch off their lights for one hour and the chance to do their bit for the environment. People have taken Earth Hour and have put their own unique twist on it coming up with amazing and inspiring ideas and actions that have taken Earth Hour beyond one hour and have led to grand scale sustainable day-in day-out practices.
How do you take the lights out phenomenon of Earth Hour and do something with it that spreads the word to more people? Whether you develop new uses of technology, stage events, educate or change behavioural patterns and bring about the cultural change that make sustainable living all the rage. The ethos of Earth Hour is simple - keep it open source, keep it hopeful, positive, uniting and empowering. It all starts in your local community. What will you do to become an Earth Hour Innovator?


Read what these innovating people and organisations are doing for Earth Hour 2010:For example, the Temple Bar Traders Association has been incredible supportive and will be darkening the Dublin entertainment district for Earth Hour. A Dublin radio station is spreading the word about Earth Hour by encouraging listeners to contact them if they are having an Earth Hour event; in return they are giving away 500 Earth Hour branded pump torches to whoever contacts them. The Local Authority Environmental Awareness Officers have organised a screening of ‘The Age of Stupid' for the national launch of Earth Hour by the Minister for the Environment. The launch in turn encouraged the attendees to organise their own events across the country. This year, in conjunction with WWF Northern Ireland, FIE helped organise a virtually torch relay with wind up torches between schools in the Republic and the North. The torch relay was launched by the Dublin Lord Mayor at St Brendan's school and ended in Belfast - possibly the only cross border activity between countries. All of these examples of support for Earth Hour reiterate the fact that, at its heart, Earth Hour is a grass roots campaign that is run for the people, by the people. Nowhere is this more evident than in the resolve of FIE to take action on climate change. By taking the Earth Hour ethos, FIE has inspired individuals, business and communities to get involved and demand a resolution to the issue of global warming.

As a result, Earth Hour in is building on its success every year. Last year the Department of the Environment came on board with substantial in-house and media agency support. This included a subvention to the Irish Times for a special supplement on Earth Hour and certain targeted radio and television advertisements. This year, local radio station Q102 has been a major driving force. Now in its second year promoting Earth Hour it feels ownership - the most valuable support of all - from people who feel Earth Hour belongs to them and they want to spread the message. This is the fundamental driving force of Earth Hour. FIE is the perfect example of what can be achieved by a community coming together and proof that the commitment and determination of this community is the most powerful tool in the path to success.

http://www.earthhour.org/Innovators.aspx

 

FIE has written to the Chairman and CEO of Failte Ireland seeking the immediate withdrawal of their current advertising campaign ‘Meet in Ireland'.

‘This campaign mocks tele-conferencing and instead encourages those involved in business to travel to hotels around Ireland for their meetings. This is in direct contradiction to the Government Policy published this year ‘SmarterTravel', which seeks to use broadband and modern telephone rather than contributing to Ireland's transport carbon footprint.'

READ THE LETTER | THE PRESS RELEASE


PRESS RELEASE
FRIENDS OF THE IRISH ENVIRONMENT
1 JULY 2010


CALL FOR WITHDRAWAL OF FAILTE IRELAND CAMPAIGN

An environmental group has written to the Chairman and CEO of Failte Ireland seeking the immediate withdrawal of their current advertising campaign ‘Meet in Ireland'.

‘This campaign mocks tele-conferencing and instead encourages those involved in business to travel to hotels around Ireland for their meetings. This is in direct contradiction to the Government Policy published this year ‘SmarterTravel', which seeks to use broadband and modern telephone rather than contributing to Ireland's transport carbon footprint.'

‘The government is activity promoting the telecommunications sector; in fact this is a vital part of the green and smart economy. Yet here we have Failte Ireland denigrating and disparaging internet communications! How many more times is this state agency going to pay our money for an ad undermining government policy?'

The group suiggeswts that Bord Failte's campaign ‘appears to have been devised by the hotel industry, itself burdened with over capacity through state support.' Director Tony Lowes said that ‘ A ‘Meet In Ireland' campaign is not only environmentally damaging, but it is also extremely costly for businesses to support these conferences and meetings when many can be replaced by tele-conferencing and e-conferencing.'

‘Bord Failte would be better occupied in ensuring the provision of well equipped video linked centres in the major Irish towns to allow Ireland to communicate electronically with the rest of the word.'

‘This current campaign will cost both business and the environment dearly.'

Verification and comment: Tony Lowes, 027 74771 / 087 2176316
Letter: http://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/friendswork/index.php?do=friendswork&action=view&id=851

Editors Notes: e-oconferencing
One of the exciting new ways that people communicate these days is by e-conferencing. That first letter stands for electronic. Such e-conferencing is usually done via the Web, but server-based e-conferencing is common as well.
The most common kind of e conferencing is the Internet chat, otherwise known as Internet Messaging or simply IM. Whether you realize it or not, every time you engage in one of these sessions, you are e-conferencing. Even if it's just a social chat between friends, it can still be classified as e-conferencing.
What most people envision when they think about e-conferencing, however, is business-related interaction. Such e-conferencing can take the form of audio and/or video conversations, message swapping, file sharing and other forms of electronic interaction that simulate the experience of everyone being in the same room. That is the essence of e-conferencing, the ability to make it seem like everyone is in one room even if they are on separate continents.
People participate in e-conferencing using a variety of software applications. Some types of Internet chat applications, such as Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger, Skype or Google Chat, are first and foremost text-chat enablers. These applications, however, also boast file sharing functionality as well, with some of the more adventurous applications including links to other services offered by the portal or manufacturer.
Some software applications offer all manner of e-conferencing possibilities. You can even, if you look hard enough, find an application suite that does it all, giving you audio, video, messaging, data sharing, and a whole lot more. Most providers of this kind of suite, especially, include a very attractive security package, so you and your colleagues can virtually interact while enjoying the peace of mind that you are not being spied on and your data-sharing activities are not being hacked. Other providers of lesser e-conferencing functionalities have varying degrees of security as well.
The common perception of e-conferencing is that it happens in real time, with everyone interacting at once. This is not always the case. A very popular use of e-conferencing is the prerecording and subsequent viewing of presentations, for business meetings or even for educational sessions. This kind of meeting is still considered e-conferencing, even though it doesn't seem to fit the common definition. Interaction is still taking place electronically; the introduction and absorption of information is simply not simultaneous.
As more and more people own and operate computers regularly, e-conferencing will become more and more attractive as an option for sharing thoughts, laughs, and sensitive information. Software applications will continue to improve to meet this growing demand as well. It's all a by-product of the always-on, interconnected global society that computers and the Web make possible.
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-e-conferencing.htm

 

Ahead of a Fine Gael Private Members Bill to abolish the €10 travel tax, FIE has written to all the member of the party urging them to reconsider their position.

Aviation fuel remains entirely untaxed - itself an enormous competitive advantage - because we can reach no international agreement. In these circumstances, the only way that we can control consumer behaviour is through airport and travel taxes.

The letter also quotes reports showing that Government subsidies for rural airports - which cost the taxpayer up to €17 million a year and capital grants of another €87 million - are without justification.

Read the Letter | the Press Release


Redmond O'Donoghue, Chairman
Shaun Quinn, CEO
Failte Ireland
30 June, 2010

By email only: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Re: Withdrawal of ‘Meeting Ireland’ advertising campaign

Dear Sirs;

We write to ask you to withdraw immediately the advertisements you have placed in the media to promote business meetings at a variety of locations around Ireland.

These advertisements are in direct conflict with government policy in the form of SmarterTravel, launched early last year, which sets targets for greater numbers of people using modern technology to avoid the use of travel. We quote:

"This [new government] Policy focuses on one aspect of flexible working, the concept of e-working."

Action 5 seeks to

‘ensure that the public sector is an exemplar in the area of e-working and will require all organisations in the public sector to set targets to encourage e-working where appropriate."

Your mocking of phone conferencing does nothing to promote the very useful, economic, and environmentally friendly forms of tele-conferencing and e-conferencing available. Failte Ireland would be better advised to ensure the provision instead (in at least all of Ireland's larger urban areas) of facilities in a hotel or other publicly accessible building where a member of the public could video-link to a colleague or colleagues anywhere in the world. Failte Ireland could be of use in ensuring these facilities are made available at reasonable cost and when this is assured could then publicise their availability.

SmarterTravel is a very well publicised policy. We are taken aback that you appeared unaware of its existence to date.

By undermining government policy, these advertisements are more than a a simple waste of public funds. We look forward to confirmation of the withdrawal of an advertising campaigns that contravene government policy and denigrates and disparages forward thinking and the smart economy.


Yours, etc.,

Tony Lowes,
Director


CC: Noel Dempsey, TD, Minister for Transport
Ciaran Cuffe, TD Minister of State for Horticulture
Mary Hanafin, TD Minister for Tourism Culture and Sport.
Conor Lenihan. TD Minister for Science, Technology, Innovation and Natural Resources

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Open Letter to:
Olivia Mitchell, Enda Kenny, Bernard Allen, James Bannon, Seán Barrett, Pat Breen, Richard Bruton, Ulick Burke, Catherine Byrne, Joe Carey, Deirdre Clune, Paul Connaughton, Noel J. Coonan, Simon Coveney, Seymour Crawford, Michael Creed, Lucinda Creighton, Michael D'Arcy, John Deasy, Jimmy Deenihan, Andrew Doyle, Bernard J. Durkan, Damien English, Olwyn Enright, Frank Feighan, Charles Flanagan, Terence Flanagan, Brian Hayes, Tom Hayes, Phil Hogan, Paul Kehoe, Pádraic McCormack, Shane McEntee, Dinny McGinley, Joe McHugh, Denis Naughten, Dan Neville, Michael Noonan, Kieran O'Donnell, Fergus O'Dowd, Jim O'Keeffe, John O'Mahony, John Perry, James Reilly, Michael Ring, Alan Shatter, Tom Sheahan, P. J. Sheehan, David Stanton, Billy Timmins, Leo Varadkar.


€10 Travel Tax and other air travel dis-incentives


Dear Deputies;

We write with extreme concern over your proposed Private Members Bill to end the €10 air travel tax.

You will be aware that aviation is the most carbon-intensive means of travel and that it is a cross party commitment to address the issue of our unsustainable use of fossile fuels. This motion runs contrary to this commitment, which we expected you as elected Deputies to honour.

The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change put aviation emissions per passenger kilometre at 3 times rail and 4 times bus transport for domestic flights. It is triple that for long haul flights at high altitudes. According to Sustainable Energy Ireland statistics from air travel accounts for 17 percent of Irish transport energy use.

Aviation fuel remains entirely untaxed - itself an enormous competitive advantage - because we can reach no international agreement. In these circumstances, the only way that we can control consumer behaviour is through airport and travel taxes.

The removal of this travel tax would act as a further subsidy and encouragement for air travel on which current Irish Government policy is already spending many millions that could be used elsewhere for the benefit of our society rather than continuation of this unsustainable and damaging form of transport.

WE would draw your attention to a neglected Report commissioned by the Government in 2003 from DKM Consultants. This made it clear that

‘The issue for public policy is whether the benefits are commensurate with the now very substantial costs, and we are not aware of any studies or analyses which establish that this is so.'

The McCarthy Report echoed these comments:

The Group understands that regional airports have traditionally served a regional development purpose rather than a required transport purpose. However, the Group also notes that, in many instances, the Exchequer is backing the provision of the other new, much improved transport links (road, rail) to the same locations. With this in mind, and also considering the Government's developing climate change agenda and commitments under current and future international emissions agreements, the continued support of loss-making air services is unsustainable.

They recommend that we discontinue operational grants for regional airports when this schemes ends this year, discontinue the public service obligation payments for regional air services, and end capital grants for regional airports.

This would represent a saving of €17 million a year in Public Service Obligations and operational subsidies and much of the €86 million unspent in capital grants - about €100 million.

Finally, under EU Council Regulation No. 2408 of 1992, Governments are NOT permitted to subsidise air routes between regions "where other forms of transport can ensure an adequate and uninterrupted service when the capacity offered exceeds 30,000 seats per year".

The Government's spend of over €17 million a year to subsidise flights between Dublin and Derry, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Knock as well as Sligo is illegal to all these destination because public transport capacity to these destinations now exceeds 30,000 seats per annum.

We would urge you to consider your opposition on the air travel tax for these reasons and to support the DKM and McCarthy Reports to demonstrate your fiscal and environmental responsibility.

Friends of the Irish Environment

Caroline Lewis, Secretary