Embassy of France in Ireland puts out open call for climate change projects

21 Sep 2018

H.E. Stéphane Crouzat, the French Ambassador to Ireland. Image: Luke Maxwell

The Embassy of France in Ireland is welcoming submissions for creative projects from all disciplines for its upcoming climate change event.

Many would characterise the global response to climate change as alarmingly sluggish and lacklustre. Despite extreme weather conditions and a global rise in temperature, many are still slow to accept the reality of what is happening and adapt accordingly.

While all EU member states have been found to be falling short in terms of the Paris Agreement, Ireland has performed particularly badly. It was recently ranked the second-worst in the EU on climate change action. It is set to miss its 2020 climate and renewable energy targets. It is also off course for its 2030 emission target, which the Climate Action Network (CAN) derided as “unambitious” to begin with.

Evidently, Ireland needs to pull itself up by its bootstraps, perhaps following the example of EU nations that better comply with the Paris Agreement. Heeding the advice of France, which ranked third on the scale and is 65pc compliant with the accord, might not be a bad idea.

On 5 November, the Embassy of France in Ireland will hold a public event in Trinity College Dublin on the subject of climate change, in conjunction with the Trinity International Development Initiative, the Institute of International and European Affairs, and Trócaire. The forum, entitled ‘Creative Responses to Climate Change: A Marketplace For Ideas’, will bring together key figures involved in climate negotiations, civil society representatives and activists, and interested citizens.

‘These people with their formidable experience will explain the stakes, why we need to be completely mobilised on this issue, and make sure that it’s really top of the agenda’

The date of the event is no accident, explained French Ambassador to Ireland, H.E. Stéphane Crouzat. The forum falls on the day just after the two-year anniversary of when the Paris Agreement first came into force. It is also in advance of the COP24 United Nations conference, which will be held in Katowice, Poland, in December.

Why hold such an event? Well, the reasons are self-evident. “It’s not something up in the air. We see the effects of climate change every day. We see it, and we’ve seen it, in Ireland every day,” Crouzat said. “It’s not just a question of signing and ratifying this treaty – it’s a question of implementing [it]. It’s a huge challenge for humanity.”

The event promises to be peopled with a veritable ‘who’s who’ of climate action. An opening speech will be delivered by former Irish president Mary Robinson, who is very involved with the Foundation for Climate Justice, and Ségolène Royal, the former minister and president of COP21. “These people with their formidable experience will explain what are the stakes, why we need to be completely mobilised on this issue, and make sure that it’s really at the top of the agenda,” said Crouzat.

Being a top priority is important because if things continue as they are, so Crouzat explains, the world is in trouble. We’re currently on track for a three-degree increase in global temperature, “which is not what we signed [up] for in Paris”.

Open call

The Embassy of France in Ireland is now welcoming submissions for creative projects from all disciplines for its upcoming climate change event.

So, what is it looking for in prospective entries? They must offer a solid solution, or perhaps a creative one. “Be concrete; what can we do as citizens to tackle climate change? Every citizen can do something … If everybody is aware of the need to do something and does something, we will maybe win that fight,” said Crouzat.

He is quick to stress that the forum is open to everyone, across all age brackets and disciplines. Whether you are still in school or working in an NGO, the embassy wants your valuable contribution.

Crouzat is also keen to sidestep the competitive way in which things such as the CAN ranking are displayed. It’s good to understand where Ireland falls relative to its peers, but it defeats the purpose to pin countries against each other. “We’re all in this together. It’s not about who’s doing better and who’s doing worse. Not a single country in Europe is on course to meeting [the conditions of the agreement].”

That said, learning from France could be useful. In 2015, the country set itself ‘energy transition’ goals codified in law. By 2030, it hopes that 32pc of its energy sources will be renewable. It works on ‘circular economy’, which Crouzat says helps to gear the French economy towards meeting these goals.

France is also renowned for its swift and decisive action on global waste. Two years ago, it brought in legislation forbidding food waste in supermarkets. It is currently planning to ban stores from throwing away unsold clothing.

The deadline for applications closes on Sunday, 30 September 2018.

More information about submissions can be found here. Completed applications and general queries should be directed to science@ambafrance-ie.org.

Eva Short was a journalist at Silicon Republic