Skip to main content
Climate Conversations

Climate Conversations

By Irish Doctors for the Environment
In Climate Conversations we talk to a diverse range of inspirational people who share a deep commitment to their communities and the natural world that sustains them. Through engaging and broad reaching conversations with leading authors, scientists, activists and politicians we discover some of the solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises that threaten our future and learn how these solutions will create a healthier, happier and more equitable world.
Where to listen
Google Podcasts Logo

Google Podcasts

Pocket Casts Logo

Pocket Casts

RadioPublic Logo


Spotify Logo


Currently playing episode

The psychology of climate action with Dr. Clare Watson

Climate Conversations

Clean energy with Professor Hannah Daly
For the final episode of season two we are delighted to be hosting Professor Hannah Daly on the podcast. Hannah is a professor in sustainable energy and energy systems modelling at UCC, before which she worked at the International Energy Agency. Hannah's research and lectures focus on modelling and developing sustainable pathways for the energy system, encompassing energy access, climate change and air pollution. Over recent years she has provided a much needed voice of science and reason in the often emotionally charged and polarising debates on key issues in Ireland such as carbon budgets, agriculture, data centres, renewable energy and our path to net Zero. We talk about many of these issues with her, with a particular focus on the challenges and opportunities of cleaner energy.
September 04, 2022
Sustainable Healthcare with James Dixon
The climate and biodiversity crises are increasingly being recognised as one of the major threats to human health and wellbeing, driving much of humanities efforts to decarbonise our economies. Yet the healthcare sector is an enormous source of greenhouse gas emissions and waste, with some estimates calculating that if the global healthcare sector was a country, it would be the fifth largest emitting country in the world. Achieving net zero within the healthcare sector is therefor essential not only for the health and wellbeing of the populations that they serve, but also in helping governments achieve national net zero goals. But with such a huge volume of consumables, plastic waste, infrastructure heating and lighting needs, ambulance fleets and so on, how can this be achieved? This month we speak to James Dixon to try and find some answers. James is a leader in healthcare sustainability: he is a chartered environmentalist who has worked in healthcare sustainability for over 15 years, including winning national awards such as the sustainable healthcare leader of the year award along the way. His current roles of associate director of sustainability at Newcastle Hospitals NHS trust and sustainability lead for North East and Cumbria integrated care systems puts him in charge of driving these institutions transition to net zero.
June 23, 2022
Rewilding in Ireland with Randal Plunkett
In this episode we sit down with Randal Plunkett, owner of the beautiful Dunsany Estate, home to Ireland's largest rewilding project. Since 2014 Randall has been allowing the 1600 acre estate to rewild: by stopping the grazing of cattle or sheep and the growing of crops, nature is given space to flourish and functioning ecosystems are restored. As a result he has seen a huge increase in the populations of birds, mammals and insects, including the return of teh Corncrake, Woodpecker, Red Kite and Pine Marten!
May 08, 2022
Sustainable farming with Green Earth Organics
In this months episode Sean and Callum head to the beautiful Green Earth Organics farm in Galway to chat to owner Kenneth Keavey about sustainable farming. Kenneth and his team of over 40 staff grow a variety of delicious organic vegetables, which they deliver to subscribers around Ireland. We discuss the benefits and challenges of organic farming, the importance of soil health, the challenges vegetable farmers face in Ireland, the importance of locally grown produce for food security and our health, what people can grow in their own back yard and much more! Head over to for more information!
February 12, 2022
International climate diplomacy with Dr. Sinead Walsh
This month on Climate Conversations Aoife and Callum speak with Dr Sinead Walsh about international climate policy and diplomacy. Sinead has had a varied and fascinating career, culminating in her current role as Climate Director in the Department of Foreign Affairs. Her career has spanned both the NGO sector and government;  she worked for ten years across India, Pakistan, Rwanda and South Sudan for Concern Worldwide before joining Ireland's DFA in 2009, where she has served as EU ambassador to South Sudan and Irish ambassador to Sierra Leone and Liberia, where she found herself playing a leading role in the Ebola response. Her experience during this crisis was captured in her incredible book 'Getting to Zero: A doctor and a diplomat on the Ebola frontline', which she co-published with Dr. Oliver Johnson. She has a BA from Harvard University, an MSc in Development Studies from University College Dublin and a PhD in Social Policy from the London School of Economics. In this conversation they touch on Sinead's incredible career so far, the increasing impacts of climate change on the global south, the amplification of climate risk in those already vulnerable, the projected impacts of mass migration, Sinead's role in the Ebola response in Sierra Leone and how the lessons she learned there are still relevant in the climate fight, the huge role of domestic policy in facilitating and blocking global climate action, the importance of realistic and long time frames for international development projects, Sinead's experience on the inside of COP26 and the need for high income countries to financially support low income countries in transitioning to net zero.
December 12, 2021
Taking the pulse of COP 26 with Ian Lumley
This month we have a special episode; join the IDE gang (physiotherapist Maca Hourihane and doctors Derek Cawley, Jeanette Golden, Ana Rakovac and Sean Owens) as they hit the road to Scotland to take the pulse of the COP 26 event in Glasgow, and bring their message to the global political leadership; the climate crisis is a real and present health crisis. As world leaders gather to try and hammer out an agreement on nothing less than our future survival, we hear from a variety of people about what has motivated them to travel to Scotland and make their voices heard at one of the most important moments in the fight for climate action. Dr Sean Owens then talks to Ian Lumley, head of advocacy at An Taisce, Irelands national trust. Amongst other things they discuss: what exactly is COP? The role of indigenous peoples as stewards of the land and their lack of representation at COP, challenges with agriculture in Ireland and the effect of industry lobbying on policy, the need for social movements to challenge the large lobby groups and special interests, plant based diets and the historical precedent for population wide plant based diets supporting large civilisations
November 14, 2021
Effective Climate Communication with John Gibbons
Welcome back to the new season of Climate Communications! On the eve of COP26 the worlds attention is focused on the climate crisis and how our leaders will respond. Communicating the scale of the threat and what actions need to be taken is such a vital task, and it is one that we must all increasingly take on in every forum possible. But how to do it well? In this episode IDE members Derek Cawley and Callum Swift speak to John Gibbons, one of Irelands leading environmental journalists and commentators, on the art of effective climate communication. John has honed his craft through decades of writing, speaking and advocating all things climate and biodiversity, and is now a regular on a variety of national media platforms. His blog has a wealth of incredible articles and resources In this episode we discuss: The scope of the challenge we face, the evolution of climate coverage in the media, the failure of our evolutionary heuristics in coping with existential threats, the need for species wide collaboration, the need to define ourselves based on a shared humanity, the need to align values with actions, the need to find common ground with someone to change their belief, how to effectively engage in debate and finally, John gives us quick responses to many of the most commonly used counter arguments. We hope you enjoy it, please subscribe and leave a review on your favourite pod catcher if you do!
November 01, 2021
Climate Conversations Trailer
Through engaging and broad reaching conversations with leading authors, scientists, activists and politicians, we discover some of the solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises that threaten our future, and learn how these solutions will create a healthier, happier and more equitable world. 
September 27, 2021
Restoring Ireland's native forests with Hometree
In this episode Callum takes a stroll through the forests of west Clare with Matt Smith and Ray Ó Foghlú from the Hometree Charity. Hometree is about land regeneration and connecting people to the process. They plant trees when it’s the right thing to do and have an expert team of advisors who guide them in the right direction. Their core value is stewardship.  Through education and supporting increased awareness and consideration of Ireland’s natural environment, they hope to nourish a new way of relating to nature conservation and rehabilitation. Together they explore a hidden temperate rainforest and a Sitka spruce plantation in Clare. We discuss regenerative forestry, woodland conservation, connecting with nature, engaging the community, bringing farmers and landowners on board, how to help land return to native forests and their vision of the future of Irelands forests.
July 25, 2021
The roadmap to recovery with Dr. Paul Behrens
In this episode IDE members Dr. Callum Swift and Dr. Margaret Brennan chat to physicist, climate scientist and author Dr. Paul Behrens about the changes humanity need to make in order to meet the goal of limiting earths warming to 1.5 degrees. We discuss his remarkable book 'The Best of Times, the Worst of Times: Futures from the Frontiers of Climate Science', and Paul takes us through the five broad changes that he has laid out: 1. The continual enfranchisement of women globally; aspirations for higher standards of education and healthcare around the world as a priority, well managed migration in society, investment in people 2. A deep and sustained shift to electricity as the main energy carrier, generated by as much renewable energy as possible; sophisticated electricity grids with as much storage and transmission as possible 3. Three large changes in food systems: shifting diets, reducing waste, and improved food-production technologies. The ultimate aim would be to decrease the impacts and the amount of land needed while continuing to improve yields 4. The implementation of regulation and policy that we know will help to reduce emissions but can be politically difficult: frequent flyer levies, banning petrol vehicles in urban areas, large scale building retrofit schemes and afforestation 5. The replacement of GDP as a measure of societies success with something that contains a broader conception of value - to measure the importance of the environment and society as intrinsic values rather than converted into commodified monetary amounts. A universal basic income and universal basic services will be needed
June 13, 2021
Restoring our connection to nature with Pádraic Fogarty
This month Pádraic Fogarty leads us headfirst into some untamed nature, hidden in plain sight in Dublin!  As editor of the Irish Wildlife magazine, author of the book 'Whittled away: Irelands vanishing nature' and the new Irish Wildlife Trust podcast 'Shaping New Mountains', Pádraic is one of Irelands leading environmentalists. We take a stroll through an oasis of birds and butterflies along the Tolka river, discussing the need for a revolution in our collective value systems with regards to our relationship with the natural world, the key role of education in catalysing this, the joy of exploring wild places, farming practices as both a driver and solution to the biodiversity crisis, problems with the subsidy systems and natural capital concepts, the inequality of access to green spaces, how to rewild your back garden and Pádraic's vision for the future in Ireland.  Find out more about IDE and listen to all of our podcasts at Soundtrack by Patrick Dexter
April 26, 2021
The psychology of climate action with Dr. Clare Watson
In this episode IDE members Sean Owens and Callum Swift are joined by Dr. Clare Watson, a passionate academic and campaigner who has a long history of environmental and social activism. Her background was in social work, since then she has co-authored a book ‘Campaigns, and how to win them’, and written a blog entitled ‘Chasing Hubcaps’ which looks at the influence of human psychology behaviour in peoples reaction to climate change. She completed her PhD at the Marei institute at UCC which looked at the community response to climate change and intersections of behaviour, and she is currently involved with community energy projects in Kerry. In this broad reaching and deeply reflective conversation they discuss the many lessons she has learn't from a life spent trying to change people's minds about environmental issues, how human psychology plays a vital role in shaping our actions, the need for action-based changes rather than ideology based changes, engaging local communities, grassroots organisations such as the GAA, citizens assemblies, community energy and much more!
March 26, 2021
Active transport with Robert Burns
On this episode IDE member Dr Vincent Wall has an engaging and broad reaching conversation with Robert Burns, director of infrastructure, sustainable mobility and climate change at Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council.   They discuss the concept of a liveable city, how to promote community engagement, encouraging older people into public spaces, the nexus between people, public space and population resilience, the benefits of cycling to school for children, the rapid changes the council implemented to facilitate safe transport during the pandemic, Roberts vision for the coastal mobility route and his broader vision of active travel routes linking across Ireland , the concept of the 15 minute city, the need for the medical profession to engage with the public about air pollution and much more! 
March 14, 2021
Rewilding with Isabella Tree
In this episode we are delighted to be joined by Isabella Tree, conservationist and author of the award-winning book “Wilding; the return of nature to a British Farm”. The spectacular results of her rewilding experiment on the 3,500 acre Knepp farm offer a window into possible solutions to many of todays most critical problems: carbon sequestration, soil restoration, crop pollination, flood mitigation, water purification, animal welfare and human health.  We discuss the joy of reconnecting with nature, the challenges many farmers face in the current system, the incredible number of rare species that have surprised conservationists and made Knepp their home, the changing public perception of rewilding, shifting baseline syndrome, the importance of soil health, then benefits of regenerative agriculture, how to rewild on a back garden scale, Isabella's vision for the future and much more!
February 28, 2021
Prelude: An introduction to planetary health and Irish Doctors for the Environment
Welcome to Conversations with Irish Doctors for the Environment, where we talk to inspirational people from all walks of life who share a deep commitment to their communities and the natural world that sustains them. By striving to make a positive change to the world, however small, our guests offer a vision of reclaimed agency and hope that combats cynicism and despair and provides a glimpse of a future that we can look forward to.  In this episode we talk to some of the founders of Irish Doctors for the Environment about planetary health, the intersection between climate change and health, the benefits of positive action and some of IDE's work so far. For more visit
February 21, 2021