The issue of climate change is rarely out of the news, but at an event organised by over Wexford Local Development the focus was on how communities in the county can combat this crisis.
Over 200 people were in attendance for a discussion entitled 'Are we there yet? Community Actions for Climate Justice' to hear presentations from a number of experts.
These included Dr Conor Murphy of Maynooth University who opened proceedings by laying bare the causes of climate change; the man-made problems which have led to rising temperatures, increase in sea levels and a greater frequency in natural disasters.
'Climate change is real, it is happening, and the future is in our hands,' said Dr Murphy as he concluded his talk.
Grace O'Sullivan, MEP, then outlined the European Green Deal, which has been designed to ensure no individual or region is left behind in the 'great transformation ahead', before Ann Irwin of Community Work Ireland (CWI) underlined the importance of involving all members of society in the fight against climate change.
'For many in marginalised communities climate is not on their agenda,' said Ann. 'These communities are Travellers, migrants, socioeconomically disadvantaged communities and others more concerned with preventing homelessness, mental health and wellbeing, avoiding food poverty and ensuring their children stay in education.
'Ironically, these are the very communities that are likely to be most affected by climate change and have the least ability to respond. The challenge is to see how the two agendas can be brought closer together?' she added.
Detailing how Ireland was 'far off course' when it came to achieving its targets for 2030, she said, 'Marginalised communities and groups in Ireland and globally will bear the brunt of the impacts of climate change and have the least resources to adapt and make the necessary transition to a zero-carbon society.'
The younger members of our communities have already proven themselves to be activists in waiting and the presentations featured some of the work being done by students across the county.
The 'Bin Debunkers' from Mheánscoil Gharman described how they had initiated a colour scheme for waste management at the school; green for recycling, black for the compost bins and red for waste; and were monitoring the bins on a regular basis, informing teachers if their class was failing to comply.
Ellen Curran of the Presentation Secondary School said she was 'fearful for my future and that of my children, which shouldn't be the case. I feel a huge burden resting on my shoulders to make a drastic change to my own life, so this I why I cannot comprehend why so many of my fellow human beings don't feel the same fear and pressure that I feel every day to make a difference.'
While Jody Boyle, also from the Presentation, spoke of the fear affecting many of our younger generations. 'Climate change, to me at least, means the end of the world. I know that sounds dramatic, but it is the end as we know it. The areas we always saw as cold are turning hot. It terrifies me to think that in a hundred years the world will look so different - my children won't know the same world I do.'
The event concluded with a showcase of local community projects from Kilanerin Ballyfad Sustainable Energy Community, Yola Farm & Family Centre Tagoat,
The WARM Project (WLD) and Seal Rescue Ireland.