GEAI is happy to announce that our Communications Director, Leslie O’Hora, is taking an active part in COP26 in Glasgow this weekend!

As well as being a founder member of GEAI, Leslie is an active member of the Green Party dedicated to preserving Ireland’s natural beauty. He has been involved in sustainability and community development projects for years. In this interview, we would like to explore with Leslie the importance of the UN Climate Change Conference and its impact on the community.

Ilya: Leslie, tell us a little more about yourself! You’ve been involved in green activism since the eighties, am I right? What exactly pushed you towards these issues?
Leslie: During my childhood, the kind of things that gave me a lot of comfort was being in nature, the poetry of Wordsworth and stuff like that. This led me into green activism when it started in the early eighties. I’m currently involved in trying to ensure that green policies are adopted, nationally and internationally and especially in local communities. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about what happens locally.

Ilya: How do you feel about being appointed as one of the Irish Delegates to COP 26? Can you tell us a little bit more about the designation process?
Leslie: I’m very honoured to be going to COP 26 as an Irish delegate. GEAI is a member of the Irish Environmental Network and was invited to choose a representative; I was then ratified by the Department of Communications and Climate Change as a member of the Irish delegation. I’m looking forward to that.

Ilya: Can you tell us about the upcoming COP 26 in Glasgow. What hopes and concerns do you have regarding the Conference?
Leslie: We know that at COP 26, there will be lots of really nice statements, and great photo opportunities. But at the end of the day, what matters is that individual governments and large companies take the climate crisis seriously and commit to taking relevant actions. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that we need to take it seriously!

Ilya: And what is your agenda for COP26? What panels and meetings do you plan to attend?
Leslie: My priority is to interact with other NGOs, from Ireland, these islands and internationally. It is great that it’s being held in Scotland, which is accessible by boat! Also, the Scots are our Celtic cousins and anytime I am in Scotland, I feel at home. I’m also looking forward to working on the fringes of the conference and attending some very interesting meetings. One deals with the fate of island nations as a result of climate change, and another on renewable energy.

Ilya: Will you agree with me that today young people are more aware of climate issues?
: I think it’s fantastic that when the “Greta” movement started, it percolated right down to schools. It was incredible to see children out who are conscious of climate! During GEAI’s work in schools, we had many students who did projects, including writing songs about climate change. I think the media needs to reflect that while the traditional media has been very good at informing the older generation, there’s a definite need for more use of other forms of communication more relevant to young people.

Ilya: Do you have any advice for our readers that may be interested in being more engaged in climate change issues, clean energy and local activism?
Leslie: I think it’s easy to be led or misled by social media, whether it be Instagram or Facebook or whatever. The best way is to try and join an organisation, particularly if they have local roots. That way you can be informed and can make your own decisions based on relevant information.

Ilya: Once again, thank you for coming, Leslie. We wish you good luck in Glasgow! We look forward to meeting you after the COP to discuss it once more! As for our readers, stay tuned and stay safe.

Written by: Ilya Linevich