Dear World: ‘What will our planet be like when I’m old?’

Enter our climate-writing competition for under-18s and you could win €2k for your school

Illustration: Getty

Illustration: Getty


There’s one week left to enter The Irish Times climate writing competition (details below). Here are some entries to the competition.

Dear World,

Our youthful generation has been your hope and dependency for too long. “Those schoolchildren striking to demand action are the bright minds that will come up with a solution,” you say.

But don’t you see? There’s only so much that we can do on our own for this planet. Only so many times that we can gather outside Government Buildings before the message becomes so repeated that it loses its power. Only so much that we, as individuals can do to lessen our carbon footprint when across the world some companies emit so much C02 into the atmosphere that it feels like that one person’s efforts are futile.

There’s even less that a young person like me can do to change things without a vote. So the more times that our urgency and demands are ignored, the more times we receive empty promises setting targets, and the harder it is for us to remain hopeful.

I ask you, world leaders, to stop waiting for someone to invent a solution. The solution is in front of your very eyes. Stop investing in fossil fuels and start investing in renewable energy. Tax the biggest C02-emitting companies to incline them to change. Fund the countries hardest hit by climate change. Restore our forests and coral reefs instead of exploiting them. Protect our remaining ecosystems from harm, fund the right programmes to educate people and prevent climate catastrophes.

Please, world leaders, we ask you to start acting immediately to ensure for the next generations and our planet a brighter future.

Aoife Powell

Dear World,

Dear World

When I go to look out my window, all I can see is buildings and plumes of smoke rising from the incinerator in the city and it makes me wonder “What will happen when I’m old, what will our planet be like by then?”

Every time I go for a walk on the beach I see rubbish lying in the sand. There are piles of cans, lids, bottles, boxes, nets and plastics. Currently the amount of marine pollution around the world is enormous. We dump about eight billion kilogrammes of plastic into the sea every year – that’s nearly as much as 57,000 blue whales.

During the past few years I have seen that the number of news reports about forest fires, floods, droughts, landslides and heatwaves has been growing too.

But we can stop this crisis, if we use more recyclable materials in our products, like glass and cardboard, and natural fibres such as cotton in our clothes. When we are shopping we should bring a reusable bag. We also need to recycle more often. Drivers planning to buy a new car should try switching to electric driving to help stop carbon emissions and air pollution.

So it’s not the end of the world, but it will be soon if we don’t all try to make a difference. Hurry, there is not a second to lose.

Hannah McClure (10)

Dear World,

Our planet’s future and the future of young people are closely entwined. If we destroy the hope of one we destroy hope of the other. Our Earth has given us the ability to thrive, yet due to us clinging to the infantile belief that the world was made for our gratification and the narcissistic assumption of our own immortality we are knowingly destroying the stable climate we rely on.

We need to stop seeing this as a political issue but rather as a humanitarian issue. The devastating impacts predicted are well known yet our refusal to think to the future is hindering our ability to demand change as we should.

We need complicated solutions and simple solutions, We need to mitigate our impact and we need to prepare ourselves for the inevitable consequences abusing our status on this planet has had. We need hope.

As humans we have an ability like no other to solve problems. Fixing this mess should not be impossible.

Yasmin Peeters

The competition, the prize and how to enter

Dear World is an Irish Times climate writing competition for school students, in association with Smurfit Kappa. Write an open letter to world leaders, sharing your thoughts on the climate crisis in 300 words or fewer, in Irish or English. There are two categories of entry: primary and secondary school.

Each of the winning entries will secure a bundle of 20 books from Children’s Books Ireland for the letter writer, plus a €2,000 grant for their school, to be spent on green initiatives. The winners will be published in The Irish Times and on in late October, prior to the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties.

Entries may be uploaded at, or in the form in this article. Closing date: 11.59pm, October 9th, 2021. For style guidance and full terms and conditions, see

In association with