Queen's Policy Engagement

All I want for Christmas is a Climate Change Act

Joseph Ireland follows up on his call for a Climate Change Act for Northern Ireland.

All I want for Christmas is a Climate Change Act

“I can hear him, listen, he’s on the roof! Come on, lets go to the living room and get a glimpse!” I was huddled in my older sister’s room with my younger brother and younger sister. Santa Claus was on our roof. We crept along the corridor, walking on our toes and holding onto one another. I put my ear to the living room door. “He is in there” I whispered. We were all frozen with fear and excitement. I actually couldn’t even open the door, when I finally did he was gone and the tin of Guinness was empty.

On reflection now as an adult, I was blessed to have known Santa Claus, he brought profound joy to my childhood. Along with my brother and two sisters, we used to get intoxicated with Christmas fever around this time of year and prepare our letters for Santa Claus months in advance. I normally prepared at least a dozen drafts before my final version was ready to go up the chimney. We held a family ceremony and sent them all together, it was magical. I stopped writing letters to Santa when I was a teenager, I still miss that ritual today.

This year I started to write letters to Minister Poots pleading for him to introduce a Climate Change Act with a supporting Citizens Assembly. This ritual of letter writing has evoked the same excitement I had as a child, wondering if my gift will be delivered, but so far my efforts have left me fearful and disappointed. I feel that the hero of Santa Claus delivering my wish has been replaced by Ebenezer Scrooge and ‘bah humbug’. I had hoped for an Act months ago, following Minister Poots own words;

“You will not find this minister wanting”.

That magical glimpse has long past, buried in the mist of political agenda. I believe instead that we will find him wanting until Charles Dickens greets him with the ghost of Climate Change future;

 “ Ghost of the Future, I fear you more than any spectre I have seen. But as I know your purpose is to do me good, and as I hope to live to be another man from what I was, I am prepared to bear you company, and do it with a thankful heart. Will you not speak to me?”

This fairytale was written in 1843, with the reality of the situation we face as a species much more serious than having a Merry Christmas. I fear this time next year I will still be writing to Minister Poots with only one thing on my list.

Hopefully he will have a visit before then bringing redemption for the protagonist and a future for our children.  If not, I will try sending my letter up the chimney again; that used to work when I wanted a bike.



Joseph Ireland
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Joseph Ireland is a PhD Candidate at Queen's University Belfast researching Renewable Energy systems, specifically Shallow Geothermal Energy, and the barriers to their development in Northern Ireland. Joseph's PhD is a joint venture between the School of Natural and Built Environment and the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics and is part of a wider collaboration between Queen's and the University of Aberdeen.

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