|For peat's sake... Close Shannonbridge power station the call of Climate Camp protestors - Deirdre Verney Westmeath Independent 22nd August 2009|
For peat's sake... Close Shannonbridge power station the call of Climate Camp protestors writes DEIRDRE VERNEY
AROUND 100 people camping in Shannonbridge to highlight climate change have called on the ESB and Bord na Mona to close the West Offaly Power power plant and protect the area's bogs.
The group, from all over Ireland have set up Ireland's first 'Climate Camp', complete with solar panels and a vegan kitchen in the shadow of the massive peat-burning power station, in a bid to highlight the impact the plant is having on climate change and the destruction of local bogs.
"It is the largest peat burning station in the world," according to spokesperson for the camp Molly Walsh. "Peat is also the dirtiest way to generate electricity, worse than even coal. We want them to close the station to tackle the urgent issue of climate change."
Another member of the Climate Camp, Nancy Serrano said the country needed to act now to reduce carbon emissions: "It is people in the Global South who are being hit first and worst as a result of climate change. It’s simply unjust that we are destroying a carbon sink and burning a fossil fuel such as peat. People are losing their lives as a result of climate change and we need to act now to reduce our emissions and stop catastrophic climate change."
The camp has four main aims - education, sustainable living, movement building and direct action against the root causes of climate change. Made up of a broad gathering of people, many of whom are particularly concerned about the justice impacts of climate change, Climate Camp - Action for Social Justice began on August 15 last and runs until Saturday, August 22.
Acknowledging that local people have concerns in relations to the jobs the plant provides disappearing, Molly Walsh declared that the people deserved more from the ESB and Bord na Mona than jobs that would end in ten years when the peat runs out. Instead, the group called for green jobs in the area that will last - and that means posts that take CO2 out of the atmosphere rather than pumping it in.
"Local people have been very respectful of our passion on the issue of climate change but there is understandable concern about the jobs issue," Molly admitted. "However, they are not sustainable jobs. The ESB and Bord na Mona should be providing permanent jobs, rather than ones that result in the destruction of the carbon sink in the bogs. The bog actually takes carbon out of the atmosphere," she noted.
A number of events will take place at the camp leading up the weekend including workshops, skill sharing, sustainable living and movement building, culminating in a carnival and day of action on Saturday, August 22 next.
"There are about 100 people here and we expect that to swell in the days ahead as the weekend approaches," Molly Walsh told the Westmeath Independent. "It's taking place until Saturday and we are inviting local people, and people in Westmeath interested in alternatives, environmental and sustainable issues to come and join us."
For further information check www.climatecamp.ie