Millions rally worldwide for action on climate change

Thousands protest in Dublin and countrywide urging Government response

Students take to the streets during for the Global Climate Strike in Dublin’s Merrion Square on Friday. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times

Students take to the streets during for the Global Climate Strike in Dublin’s Merrion Square on Friday. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times

 

Millions of people across the world have taken part in rallies urging their governments to take immediate action to reduce carbon emissions and limit the impact of climate change on the environment.

The demonstrations kicked off in the Pacific islands on Friday and followed the rising sun across Australia, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and on to the Americas.

From the Solomon Islands to New York, Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Enniscorthy, Drogheda and other parts of the State, young people took time off school to take part in the demonstrations and urge politicians to do more to stop global warming.

More than 4,000 registered events took place worldwide with New York hosting the largest of the rallies, during which an estimated 200,000 people marched through Lower Manhattan.

Among that crowd was teenager Greta Thunberg, whose decision to take time off school to demonstrate outside the Swedish parliament a year ago sparked the global school strikes for climate movement.

The student, who has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her climate activism, spearheaded a rally at the United Nations headquarters in the city.

“This can only be fantasy,” she said of the turnout for the rallies.

In a video message, the 16-year-old said “marches like these won’t change everything” but that she regarded them as “social tipping points” that will force governments to take action.

The international day of action saw hundreds of Irish schools allow students to miss lessons to take part.

Thousands march in Dublin

In Dublin, more than 10,000 young people and adults took to the streets demanding that the Government do more to safeguard their futures.

Harry Ennis, a first year student at Dublin’s Mount Temple Comprehensive School, said he was participating “because if we start doing something about it now we can maybe reverse climate change but we have to do it now before it is too late”.

Rory Rusnak (14), from Sutton Park School, attended the march with his younger sister, and held a sign saying “Tick tock Taoiseach”.

“I think it’s important Leo Varadkar acts on climate change. We young people are going to inherit the earth and it’s being destroyed right now for profit,” he said.

In Cork, protesters held banners and placards bearing messages such as “No Planet B” and “System Change not Climate Change”.

Sixth-year student Rachel Kingston travelled from Waterford to Cork for the rally with her friends Saidbh Corcoran, Freya Farrar and Fiadh Daly.

“When we look back on this day we are not going to be thinking about missing a day of school. We are going to thinking that we turned up for a great cause,” said Kingston.

Minister for Climate Action Richard Bruton said he agreed with the sentiments of the young people who protested. He is in New York this weekend to participate in the United Nations convention on climate change.

“Climate disruption is the biggest challenge facing the planet. We must work together and be ambitious now, while we still have the chance,” he said.

Opposition parties and environmental groups said the numbers participating in the protests highlighted that the Government can no longer ignore or delay action on combatting climate change.