CLIMATE change affects us all and individual changes, no matter how large or small, can make a real difference.

Ruth Wishart explains all in this week's column...


BY one of those odd co-incidences I was chairing an Edinburgh Book Festival event the day the Amazonian rain forest blaze hit the headlines.

The author was Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and former UN Human Rights Commissioner, who now runs her own Climate Change Foundation.

She is a formidable campaigner on one of the most urgent issues of our time. But she radiates positivity, saying that she has faith the younger generation really “get it” and that she has been taught by her fellow Elder, Desmond Tutu, to be “a prisoner of hope”.

The Elders, which she chairs, is a group of senior statespeople like Gracha Machel and Jimmy Carter, who use their influence and profile to campaign and assist in conflict resolution.

Her schedule is exhausting. She was in Iceland recently, is now in Greenland, and will be popping home to Dublin before a meeting of the group in Zimbabwe.

She’s acutely aware of the carbon footprint of air travel and uses offset measures and, increasingly, video conferencing.

Her book, though, is a useful reminder to us all that individual contributions to climate change can really make a difference.

It features a raft of people from Alaska to Australia, Uganda to the USA where the impact of climate change has moved them to alter their lifestyle and those of everyone around them.

As she says, poverty, sustainability and social and climate justice are all inextricably linked.

When she was in Greenland her accommodation was due to be an eco friendly hut. And I imagine her arrival would be greeted by the same enthusiasm she found in Edinburgh.

Doubt that nice Mr Trump would have fared as well.