The 2015 Hedge School was held in IT Blanchardstown and the focus this year was on climate change and its impact on human rights. Students from the Social and Community Development Course, with the guidance of their lecturer, Liam McGlynn, had been preparing for the Hedge School for several weeks and students were actively involved in contributing to all aspects of the day – including workshops on the theme of climate change and human rights as well as registration of attendees, creating a short film on climate change and organising the above action: “act now or pay later”.
As well as the students’ contributions, Maitet Ledesma from IBON International, spoke eloquently about the impact of climate change in the Philippines as well as the lead into the Paris conference on climate change. This was followed by a debate between Oisin Coghlan of Friends of the Earth and Harold Kingston from the Irish Farmers’ Association on the impact of Irish Agriculture on the climate. Harold was arguing that the Irish climate is best suited for growing grass – which is then used in dairy or beef farming. He also maintained that the targets set by the EU were unrealistic. Oisin on the other hand, refuting this, stated that targets are essential to drive action to tackle climate change and held that the government weren’t even trying to meet the 2020 EU targets in order to get easier targets for 2030. Oisin also held that Ireland needs to do its fair share to tackle climate change and should not be looking for special exemptions. The debate was chaired by Afri chair Nessa Ní Chasaide.
After lunch Donal O’Kelly drew parallels between the nonviolent environmental activist Ken Saro Wiwa and Frederick Douglass, a freed slave, in a dramatic piece. The day of the Hedge School itself coincided with the 20th anniversary of the hanging of the Ogoni 9 – of which Ken Saro Wiwa was part – by the Nigerian military dictatorship with the collusion of Shell. At the beginning of the day a candle was lit by one of the IT students – who is from Nigeria – in memory of the Ogoni 9.
The day concluded with a world cafe – an opportunity for all participants to reflect on how they felt about climate change – hopeful, angry, despairing and so on – and a chance to mingle with those who felt differently.
Afri would like to thank ITB and in particular Liam McGlynn for hosting the 2015 Hedge School