Thousands of Irish students join global climate change protest

Young protesters highly critical of Government response to date on the issue

Members of the Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action invited student activists from across Ireland to the Dáil on March 6th to explain why they are calling on a mass protest during the school day on March 15th and to outline their demands.

 

Thousands of Irish students are joining a global protest for action to tackle climate change on Friday which will see public gatherings staged at more than 37 locations across Ireland.

The action is the culmination of the school strikes for climate campaign sparked by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who embarked on a lone strike for a more urgent and meaningful response to accelerating climate change outside her national parliament last year.

Strikes are expected to be staged in 105 countries as part of the grassroots movement which has been built through engagement on social media.

In Ireland, many parents, teachers, third level students and adults are also supporting the action.

The biggest gatherings will be marches to Dáil Éireann and Cork City Hall at lunchtime.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has welcomed the action, though demands for increased urgency from the students are directed at the Government. The young protesters are highly critical of its response to date on the issue.

They have set out a series of demands which is being added to on a regular basis as they are proposed by schools or individual pupils, and agreed online. They include seeking an end to fossil fuel extraction in Ireland and more ambitious targets on renewable energy than those already in place.

In addition to the protests, numerous Irish schools – notably primary schools are staging events during the day with their pupils on school premises.

Shellybanks Educate Together National School in Ballsbridge, Dublin, for example, has told parents it will “be supporting the March for Climate Change by downing our pencils and marching around the yard after break time”.

Nobel nomination

Greta, meanwhile, has been nominated for the Nobel peace prize.

In response, she said on Twitter: “[I am] honoured and very grateful for this nomination. Tomorrow we #schoolstrike for our future. And we will continue to do so for as long as it takes.”

Minister for Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton has welcomed the passion and enthusiasm among young Irish people “for what is our biggest challenge globally”.

“The decisions we take now will define the next century and the voices of our young people must be heard,” he added.

Mr Bruton’s spokeswoman said he was developing an all-of-Government plan “to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change”, which will be published shortly.

Molly Mercier-Redmond, a 2nd year student from North Wicklow Educate Together, said on behalf of the students: “If the leaders of our country are not willing to act, then we have no choice but to step up to the plate and demand action. We have always been taught that adults know best, but the truth is they are the ones ignoring climate scientists and destroying our future.”

Friends of the Earth Ireland underlined the importance of schools and students in addressing the issue of global warming.

“They house our future decision makers and the people who will be most affected by climate change,” its director Oisín Coghlan said.