April 26 – May 30, 2024

ENVIRONMENT : Making a difference

Action on climate and biodiversity under attack as EU term ends

T he arrival of spring migrants from their in Africa is well underway. The morning birdsong chorus of our resident birds, such as Blackbird, Song Thrush, Great Tit has been joined by summer visitors like Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat. As we move into May, the volume and variety of the dawn chorus will steadily increase writes Nicholas Mitch- ell of Birdwatch Ireland, West Cork branch. This is why, every year in mid-May, the Branch hosts a dawn chorus event. This year it will be on Sunday, May 12 and at a new venue. Given the early start for this event, we try to spread it around and hold it at different locations throughout West Cork. This time we will over-wintering grounds be at the western end of the county, on the Esk Mountain and development banks have just two years to avert the most devastating consequences of climate change. He described the next two years as essential to save the planet. This is a sig- nificant acceleration in urgency from the UN, who have previ- ously identified 2030 as the key date by which emissions must be slashed to keep the world on track to meet the objectives agreed in the Paris Agreement. Stiell warned that climate change was slipping down the political agenda, and that more ambitious national climate plans were required to effectively drive down emissions. The second news shock GROUNDED MEP Grace O’Sullivan I n recent weeks, two stories broke, almost simultaneous- ly, that caused shockwaves amongst environmentalists and climate campaigners. The first was a warning from Simon Stiell, the most senior climate figures at the United Nations. His message was stark: Governments, business leaders

was the leaking of the draft EU strategic agenda, currently being prepared for the next European Union mandate from 2024 to 2029. This document, being prepared behind the scenes in anticipation of the next European Commission’s political priorities, has com- pletely dropped environmental protection and climate change from Europe’s plans for the next five years. The only mention of ‘environment’ in the document was the EU’s pledge to create a ‘business-friendly environ- ment’. The European Green Deal, the flagship policy pack - age of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, is gone – nowhere to be found. Of course, we have seen the political system in Brussels, which has championed the EU as a climate leader since 2019, sliding back on the green agenda in real time. Ambi- tious legislation proposed by the European Commission in recent years is arriving for final endorsement by the European Parliament as a shadow of its former self – hollowed out and weakened beyond all recogni-

tion. And even legislation that makes it through the full legisla- tive process – like the Nature Restoration Law, is being held captive by the European Council, who refuse to give it the approval required at this stage, despite having already been agreed by all stakeholders through the European Union’s trilogue negotiations. But to see the European Commission’s flagship legislative package in the Green Deal, and any substantive mention of climate and environment, gutted from Europe’s agenda was, until now, beyond imagination. This is against the climate backdrop of temperature re- cords being shattered month-on- month, Irish farmers suffering biblical bouts of rainfall, ocean temperatures at never-be- fore-seen levels, and emerging threats to the stability of the At- lantic Ocean circulation system – a key climate tipping point that must be avoided if Ireland is to maintain its temperate climate. Right at the moment when we need more ambition on climate action and environmen-

tal protection, we’re getting far less. At a time when the UN is calling for us to accelerate progress, the European Union wants to go backwards. Significant progress was made in this term - The Europe- an Green Deal saw the adoption of the first ever European Cli - mate Law, new laws to slash the mountain of packaging waste generated, a European ‘Right to Repair’ to tackle the planned breakdown of electronics and utilities, ambitious food waste targets to ban supermarkets from throwing away good food, the now-stalled Nature Resto- ration Law. But now, this progress – and our chance at avoiding climate catastrophe, is under threat as the centre-right European People’s Party shed their green clothes and drop climate and environment from the agenda completely. To turn away from climate action and environmental protection now would be a historic mistake, and undermine the future safety and security of every citizen in Ireland, Europe and around the world.

RORY JACKSON Your local elections candidate for SKIBBEREEN/ WEST CORK LEA

Contact k rory.jackson@greenparty ie m 083 4066021 E Ê D Q @ roryjjackson

The dawn chorus

Estate outside Glengarriff, and we are grateful to the owners Kloe Wood and Adam Carveth for allowing us to hold it there. The event will start at 4:30am, so you’ll need to set your alarm clocks, but it’s worth the early rising, especially if you haven’t been to a dawn chorus event before. Everyone should experience this at least once in their lives, not just to enjoy the experience of being surrounded by birdsong as night flows into day, but to learn what birds are singing as the chorus fades and individual song becomes more prominent. As with most of our outings this event is free of charge and open to everyone. The walk will be led by our Chairperson, Jez Simms. The entrance and park- ing is at the Botanical B&B, on the N71, 4.5 km north of Glengarriff. There will be peo- ple on hand to direct you to the parking area. It will still be dark when the first birds start to sing; probably a Wood Pigeon, Song Thrush or Blackbird (come and find out). The noise level

will slowly build as the light changes and more birds join in. As dawn breaks, we will follow a foraging path up through mixed woodland, stopping often to pick out different songs and learn more about individual bird species. The walk will mainly be on woodchip paths, stone steps and boardwalks so sturdy footwear is recommended, as is warm clothing and, most importantly, midge repellent!. The walk will last an hour or so and there will be breakfast baps and refreshments available to purchase afterwards. Meeting details: Botanical B&B P75 AW26 (look out for BirdWatch Ireland sign) 4:15am for 4:30am start. Unfortunately this event is not wheelchair friendly BirdWatch Ireland West Cork Branch News: Upcoming outings being held by the Branch are: Sunday, May 12: Dawn Chorus

Male Song Thrush

Ask Mountain Estate

at Esk Mountain Estate Sunday, May 26: Cape Clear Island Visit our website www.bird- for more information about these events. To receive news and reminders about our events join our mailing list by sending an

email to mailinglist@bird- For more information about the Branch, contact Fiona O’Neill at secretary@birdwatchire- Facebook @BirdWatchIrelandWestCork Twitter @BWIWestCork

Male Whitethroat. Pics: Nicholas Mitchell

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