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Climate Anxiety Explored as Part of ‘Hope in a Changing Climate’ Event in County Clare

MEP Grace O’Sullivan and children’s author Oisin McGann shared their stories of hope and resilience with community members recently in the Old Ground Hotel, Ennis.

MEP Grace O’Sullivan and Green Party Local Councillor Candidate Bridget Ginnity with students from Rice College, Ennis.

Climate Anxiety: A recent report showed that 84% of young people worldwide worry about climate change. It is a real concern, and can leave many people feeling disempowered or hopeless. A recent event hosted by Ennis Green Rep Bridget Ginnity and MEP Grace O’Sullivan explored this phenomenon. Titled ‘Hope in a Changing Climate’, the event was well attended by members of the Ennis community, filling the function room in the Old Ground Hotel.  


Children’s Author Oisin McGann was the keynote speaker at this event, who regularly gives talks in schools on this subject. This uniquely equipped him to deliver his message to adults in a very clear and digestible way. The talk focused on the importance of community when looking at solutions for the climate crisis with McGann emphasising the point that it is not up to any one individual to make change, but rather everyone working together. 


MEP Grace O’Sullivan focused on three main points during her talk: community, nature, and the prospect of systemic change. 


“As someone who has been aware of, and has actively worked to build awareness of global warming and climate change since the 1980s, I have had to watch how much time we have lost while fossil fuel companies were lying about climate change and governments weren’t taking scientists seriously. However, it is important to remain hopeful; there is strength in numbers, and so communicating and engaging with your peers around the world can be the key to remaining empowered”.


On the topic of nature, O’Sullivan shared that being in nature is her therapy. She prioritises her Sunday morning surf sessions, as being surrounded by nature reminds her of its resilience, despite man's best efforts to destroy it. 


“Nature is resilient. There is hope in the weeds growing up through the cracks in the footpath; hope in birds nests built in the roofs of office blocks; hope in fields of seagrass growing in the most unexpected places. Hope is in nature, and nature is all around us.”


O’Sullivan shed light on her own visions of systemic change and the need for rapid, far-reaching change that removes us from the broken system we currently operate in. She pointed participants toward Kate Raworts book ‘Donut Economics’ which outlines a new economic model that moves away from the outdated use of GDP as a measure of success.


“This system is not fit for the 21st century. It does not take the health and Well Being of a nation into account: among other things, it tells us nothing about the value created in communities and it tells us nothing about nature and the living world, which gets run down in order to sustain economic growth.”


The evening was closed out by a panel discussion in which O’Sullivan and McGann were joined by Senator Roisin Garvey and Bridget Ginnity. There was much audience participation, and the prevailing feelings coming out of the event were of community and hope.


During her time in the Banner county MEP Grace O’Sullivan also met with a number of members of the community.


The day started with a visit to Clare FM to meet some of the staff and speak about the ongoing Crisis in Gaza. This was followed by visits to both Colaiste Muire and Rice College where O’Sullivan delivered a presentation on her life and how her activist past led her to becoming an MEP. Senator Roisin Garvey and Green Party Local Election Candidate Bridget Ginnity both also gave short presentations on their own work. O’Sullivan, Garvey, and Ginnity were all very impressed with the students they met, how engaged they were, and their commitment to environmental activism through the work of their respective Green School Committees.


In the afternoon, O’Sullivan met with representatives from the Clare Local Development Council. Insightful conversations around the work of the CLDC were had, with a particular emphasis on their LEADER project, alongside a discussion on how O’Sullivan’s work in the European Parliament can help Clare on a local level. It was decided that another visit to Clare was essential to get to see first hand the great work that these LEADER funded projects are doing.


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