Last time we spoke about concerns and expectations regarding UN Climate Change Conference with Leslie O’Hora, an Irish Delegate to COP 26! This important global event is officially over and it’s time to reflect upon it once more. Fresh from Scotland, Leslie will share his findings in the second part of our interview.

Ilya. Leslie, nice to see you once again! It was quite a rough week, am I right?
Leslie. Yes, absolutely!

Ilya. In this case, let us start our little chat with something easy and then go to more important matters. How did Scotland welcome you?
Leslie.  It was an interesting, challenging and intense experience; the trip took me six or seven hours to drive from County Leitrim to Scotland, but in the end, everything in Glasgow was perfect. There were five security checks, the coffee area size of a football stadium and 28000 participants across the globe. Fantastic to see people all over the world with such commitment.

Extinction Rebellion’s "Red Rebels" at Glasgow
Extinction Rebellion’s iconic “Red Rebels” campaigning at COP26. Inspiring as always!

Ilya. On a more serious note, how was your visit in terms of work, networking and information? The last time you mentioned a few meetings and conferences, is there something valuable you brought back to Ireland?
Leslie. The key thing for me was just to be there and bear witness to the fact that climate change is a serious issue for the planet and the people on it. There were a lot of other organisations like ours and activists who were serious about climate change from parts of the world that are inundated. I recall meeting with a delegation from the Island Nation of Tuvalu, who are in danger of being submerged by the Pacific, and members of the Samso community in Denmark, the first net-zero island in the world, not to mention other activists from Brazil and European Union. I learned an awful lot from them about how they organize, create awareness and get their dreams and ideas into action.

Ilya. There were countries all over the world and some big names involved at the UN Climate Change Conference. Are there any agreed measures coming up from this meeting impacting all of us or, as you mentioned before, it was just a lot of “empty talk”?
Leslie. I think we have to be balanced in our analysis of what went on. Now every politician in the world knows that climate change is real and we have to take action. I don’t think that the final agreement was an ideal one, but don’t want to be pessimistic either. Momentum was there, and the whole thing doesn’t stop because the COP26 is over.

Ilya. What is our next step after the COP26? By “our” I meant people here, in Ireland, who are aware of climate change and can’t sit idle.
Leslie. The first step is to solidify contracts that we made, like research organisations, NGO’s and activists, who are on a similar path to Good Energies Alliance Ireland. Coming back to our situation here, we must continue to make sure that the Irish Climate Action Plan is carried through. A lot of the bricks are in place and it’s just a case of making sure that the cement is put in the right places. We also must continue to increase awareness among younger people, particularly in the late teens and early twenties, and continue being a forum to express their concern about climate change.

Ilya: Once again, thank you for coming, Leslie! Glad to see you for a chat like this. As for our readers, as always, stay tuned and stay safe.

Written by: Ilya Linevich