School children from the west of Ireland call for climate deal

Pupils from Mayo and Galway call on world’s political leaders to ‘fight for our future’


Primary school students across the west of Ireland have called on world leaders at the climate summit in Paris to reach an agreement to tackle climate change.

Ray Foley from An Taisce’s Green Schools environmental education programme spent last week speaking to students in Co Galway and Co Mayo about why they think it’s important that the 190 nations gathered in Paris agree on a climate change deal.

The message from the students was simple - the world’s climate is changing and something needs to be done.

“To all the leaders of the world,” say the students: “To Francois Hollande, to Enda Kenny, to Barack Obama, Li Keqiang, David Cameron, Narendra Modi, Vladamir Putin.”

“Now it’s up to you to show courage, to fight for our future, to do the best deal, a fair deal for the animals of north and south pole, for the rainforests, for the species in danger of extinction, for the people not as fortunate as us, the people of Ethiopia, for the people of Malawi, for island nations across the earth, for the people of the Maldives, for the people of the Philippines, for the people of Bangladesh.

“For a better future for me….”

Mr Foley, who teaches about climate change through the Green Schools initiative, said he hoped this generation of children will grow up with a “sensibility around environmental issues that we just didn’t have”.

“That as future business people, decision makers and ordinary members of the community their decisions will be made with one eye on the environment,” he said.

“When we went to school we learned about the environment and nature. We didn’t learn that our day-to-day decisions are drivers of environmental issues. I’d like to think these kids will learn there’s certain environmental lines that should not be crossed and that are not acceptable.”

The children have already experienced some of the extreme weather events he described.

“They are very aware of flooding-especially in rural areas in the west. A lot of kids from the west of Ireland are from farming families. They’re aware of the fodder crisis, the flooding crisis, the storms.”

“The kids want to play their part. They want to cycle to school, they pester their parents to do the recycling because they see it as important.”

Annette Regan, principal of St Brendan’s boys’ school in Loughrea, Co Galway which took part in the video, says she hoped the students would bring home the climate message to their parents and spread what they learned into their local community.

“Children are the adults of the future. Education is the only way things can change. We reckon what we do with the children in schools impacts on their family’s efforts to improve the planet and that extends hopefully out into the entire community.”