A personal account of the Climate Conversations by Willi Kiefel

Willi Kiefel was a member of the organising group for the Climate Conversations. The short essay below is his personal account of the process, written in connection with a World Bank online course: Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must Be Avoided


This project came out of a working group initiative “New Social Contract” which was established during the Climate Gathering in Dublin June 2013.

I am part of this group and I believe that the Irish Climate Change Conversations (ICCC) matches very well with the intentions of the above World Bank Initiative.

The basic aim of ICCC is to communicate many aspects of climate change to a larger cross section of Irish Society.

The ICCC working group believes that the scientific facts around climate change are well established and largely accepted at this stage, namely that planet Earth is warming from man made emissions and that these result in more catastrophic flooding, prolonged weather periods of extreme heat and increased frequency of extreme storms and severe loss of biodiversity.

But the people most affected by these changes live in the Global South, as well as our children and grandchildren.

However, this acceptance of the scientific explanations around Climate Change has not led to a wider societal discussion and engagement. We felt, this was because the Climate Change discussion has only touched the “left, or the rational part” of the brain and not so much the intrinsic, emotional side.

To improve this we put a strong emphasis on artistic contribution in our series of 5 Climate Conversations. So we invited musicians, graphic artists, poets and comedians.

Furthermore, we invited farmers, social entrepreneurs, civil servants and government officials, trade union and business leaders, church and faith representatives, pupils and students. We feel that we were successful in our aim to get a good gender, age and inter-generational balance and with the mainstreaming of the issue and widening the audience.

We wanted to provide a safe space where different views can be expressed and shared and tried to get the audience involved and capture their feelings/ senses/ intuitions. We also opened the conversations through live-streaming and video uploading to the Internet and thus made the process available to a wider audience.

I believe that ICCC are unique in their structure- 5 iconic locations in Dublin, artistic contributions, scientific background information, educational project ideas and above all striving for cross community engagement and encouragement.


At the Launch Event: ‘Communicating the Challenge’ on March 18 the main speaker, David Begg, former President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions highlighted challenges from climate change for jobs in general but esp. for some jobs such as coal miners, for example. But we have to face it and work around it as “there are no jobs on a dead planet

Session II: ‘A New Economy’ on March 26 outlined some of the opportunities from a switch to renewable energies and it also alerted us to the challenges from reductions of natural resources, especially Fresh Water.

Session III: ‘The Sustainable Use of Our Land’  on April 8- appealed that “the focus of land use should not be on the most profitable use but on land use which is the most sustainable.

Session IV: ‘Prophetic Voices’ – on April 20 in Christ Church Cathedral highlighted the social justice issues resulting from Climate Change especially for the “Global South”. It asked for “solidarity not just with human being but with all beings”. It also showed some examples of the good work of Irish NGO’s in the Global South.

The last session,  Session V:  ‘The Call to New Horizons’  – on May 10, an abbot, an archeologist, an artist and a comedian took to the stage in the Abbey Theatre to talk about climate change. They appealed, each in their own words, that “we need to make a great leap forward and to do that the ‘environmental movement’ needs to become a people’s movement instead”.

The following link shows a summary of these conversations: https://youtu.be/HHIEQNFpPuo

I believe that the ICCC will contribute to the discussion about how we can achieve a low or zero carbon economy by the middle of this century, how we can mitigate against climate change effects which are already taking place and adapt to the unavoidable consequences of these changes and thus also help to alleviate the even more severe social and inter-generational injustice which a “ 4° C warmer world “ would bring about.

The good examples given in the above World Bank initiative are very encouraging .

“ The good news is that we still have a window of opportunity to keep global warming below 2° C. But this window is narrow. The need to act has never been more urgent. We need to act now, act together and to act differently to prepare for a warmer and more unpredictable world”

Tuam (Ireland), 16/05/2015

Willi Kiefel

Booking open for Climate Conversations launch event

Launch Event: Communicating the Challenge

18 March 2015, 07:00pm – 09:00pm

The first of a series of five ‘Climate Conversations’ which aim to promote a greater understanding of what a low carbon future might bring for Ireland. The series will feature contributiors from a wide array of sectors: trade unions, environmental NGOs, business and politics.

The first discussion – Communicating the Challenge – will take the format of a panel style discussion and will be chaired  by Ryan Meade (Climate Gathering). Speakers on the panel will include:David Begg, general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions

  • David Begg, General Secretary, Irish Congress of Trade Unions
  • George Marshall, author of ”Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change” and founder of the Climate Outreach Information Network
  • Claire O’Connor, former international director for Vice President Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection
  • Oisín Coghlan, Friends of the Earth
  • Terry Prone, Business Woman, Media Expert, Popular Commentator and Author

Admission is free but more information on the Climate Conversations series and on how to book your seat for the events is available here.



Liberty Hall, Dublin 1

Dublin Climate Gathering Brings Together ICT, Environmentalists and Local Community to build a New, Clean, Digital Economy

Press release
13th June 2013

Over 100 participants will convene in various locations across Dublin City next week to discuss how to build Plan C – a plan for a new, low carbon, digital economy. The workshop is the second Climate Gathering event, following on from an initial gathering in the Burren in February.

Participants are joining the Gathering from a broad range of backgrounds ranging from John Ashton, former Climate Adviser to the UK Government, Martin Curley, Director of Intel Europe, David Puttnam, Digital Champion for Ireland, Rebecca Harms, MEP, as well as a number of young innovators who responded to an open call for participation.

Green Party Leader and Co-Convenor of the Dublin Climate Gathering, Eamon Ryan today said: “One of the ideas developed in the Burren was that if we are to stop people going on an unsustainable path from A to B then we have to offer them a better alternative C. Participants at the Dublin Climate Gathering will be working over the three days to develop that Plan C.

The three day event will take place over 17th-19th June in inventive locations such as Tailors’ Hall, home of the Back Lane Parliament, CHQ Shopping Centre in IFSC, James Joyce Tower in Sandycove, the Bailey Lighthouse in Howth, and the Mansion House.

Director of the Climate Gathering, Ryan Meade today said: “Intel, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo and Siemens are all joining in our Climate Gathering. We think that’s because the communications revolution that is happening with the internet can drive the energy revolution we seek.”

Dublin Climate Gathering Co-Convenor Claude Turmes MEP today said: “I am really looking forward to participating in this unique workshop. The Greens/European Free Alliance in the European Parliament is very happy to be supporting this initiative and we believe we can both contribute constructively to and learn from the Gathering.”

Dublin Climate Gathering is collaboration between the Greens/European Free Alliance in the European Parliament and the Climate Gathering and is designed to complement the European Commission’s Digital Agenda Assembly, taking place in Dublin in the same week.


For further information please contact:

Eva Dowling
Communications Manager
+353 (0) 83 1496 045

Notes to the editor:

About the Climate Gathering:
The Climate Gathering is an ambitious initiative to accelerate a transformation in how we approach the challenges of stabilising the climate and sustaining prosperity in the face of environmental limits. Through a series of gatherings in Ireland, it will create an interdisciplinary network of political, business, scientific and cultural leaders who are impatient for progress and who recognise that political and cultural fears are the greatest obstacle to such a change. An initial gathering of the core network took place over four days in February 2013 in a unique location in the west of Ireland.

About The Greens/European Free Alliance:
The Greens/European Free Alliance is a political group in the European Parliament made up of Green MEPs and MEPs from parties representing stateless nations and disadvantaged minorities.

The group was established in July 1999, when these two progressive European political families agreed to join forces in the European Parliament.

Greens/EFA is currently the fourth largest political group in the European Parliament, with 58 MEPs from 15 countries. Ensuring gender balance is a priority for the group: there are 30 female and 28 male MEPs, while the group also has male and female co-presidents.

Ireland to host Climate Talks with World Experts in the Burren next month

Press Release

Wednesday 23nd January 2013

Key leaders from the worlds of science, business, politics and culture will come to Ballyvaughan, County Clare next month to work on a new narrative on climate change. The discussions will take place at The Burren College of Art between the 14th -17th of February.

The Climate Gathering will bring together 30 leading thinkers on the climate issue including Professor Daniel Schrag, from the board of scientific advisors to President Obama; Peter Vis, Head of Cabinet to the European Climate Commissioner; John Ashton, UK Climate Ambassador from 2002-2012; Marie-Hélène Aubert, advisor to the French President; Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber head of the Potsdam Institute; and Former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson to name but a few. Continue reading