Northern Ireland news

North's first climate festival to be held at Stormont

Jacinta Hamley has organised the north's first climate change festival at Stormont Estate. Picture by Hugh Russell

THE north’s first-ever climate festival is to be held in Belfast on Sunday.

Climate Craic, held in the grounds of the Stormont Estate, will include workshops, live music, stalls hosted by environmental groups and guest speakers.

The event aims to help people learn more about climate activism and how to cut down on waste.

A major UN scientific report into climate change, published earlier this year, found that human beings are "unequivocally" to blame for global warming and some changes, including rising sea-levels, cannot be reversed.

Organiser Jacinta Hamley (24), who grew up near Crossgar in Co Down, said she was inspired to launch the festival during lockdown.

She said she wanted an event which will allow people to build connections after having to spend so many months indoors.

“With Covid and caring about the climate but feeling quite disconnected from what’s going on in Northern Ireland, I knew I wanted to set up a group that highlights the solutions and the positive aspects of climate action,” she said.

“I wanted to connect people who are already working across the movement with new people who are getting more engaged and aware with the topic."

She said ways to tackle the climate crisis can include people lobbying their MLAs for more cycle lanes or choosing to eat a plant-based diet.

“The climate crisis is very overwhelming," she said.

"People want to get involved but they don’t necessarily know how to. There are so many ways you can get involved. There’s no perfect way.”

But she said systemic change is needed.

“I think it’s really important that we don’t put all the onus on individuals,” she said.

“It’s about creating change within systems.”

Ms Hamley said she wanted the festival to be a positive experience.

 

“I feel really strongly that this festival should celebrate the joyous aspects of climate action and environmental engagement - and that it’s not all doom or gloom,” she said.

"It’s a wonderful thing to be part of – bringing people together who might not usually feel connected enough to engage in something as big as a march of protest. This is more of a fun day out for people to enjoy.”

Northern Ireland has no climate change legislation.

A private member’s bill, brought forward by Green Party leader Clare Bailey, aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the north to zero by 2045.

The agriculture minister, DUP MLA Edwin Poots, has brought forward his own, less ambitious, legislation.

Ms Hamley said Climate Craic, which she hopes to make an annual event, aims to encourage all political parties to engage with the issues.

“The festival is a place to have these discussions,” she said. “It would be great if farming groups and politicians could come along."

She added: “We don’t have the time to create more division over this. This is a collective issue.”

The festival was set up after Ms Hamley took part in social action training through the British

Council’s Active Citizens programme and Co-operation Ireland.

Jonathan Stewart, director of the British Council Northern Ireland, said he was pleased the project had come to fruition.

“What Jacinta has been able to achieve in such a short time is incredible, and we wish her all the best with the event on Sunday,” he said.

For more information visit climatecraic.com

Jacinta Hamley, organiser of Climate Craic. Picture by Hugh Russell

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