Michael Staines
Michael Staines

09.58 15 Mar 2019


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School students from across the country are set to join people from around the world in skipping class today to take part in demonstrations demanding immediate action on climate change.

Marches will be held in Dublin and Cork at midday alongside local strikes at school gates and demonstrations at local authority offices nationwide.

Strikes are due to take place in 1,659 towns and cities in 105 countries around the world today.

'Biggest challenge'

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

His spokesperson said: “The decisions we take now will define the next century and the voices of our young people must be heard.”

Minister Bruton has pledged to publish “an all of government plan to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change.”

The Irish Government’s action on climate change was ranked the worst in the EU in a recent report by the Climate Change Performance Index.

Climate Strike Protests File photo of children protesting at the Children’s Rally for Climate Change in January, 19-01-2019. Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews

"No return"

Second year student Molly Mercier-Redmond, from North Wicklow Educate Together, said the protests are aimed at waking people up to the true gravity of the situation facing the world.

“I don’t think everybody fully understands how important it really is; that we really need to take action,” she said.

“A lot of people say there are 11 years left until the tipping point where there is no return.

“I think when you think of it like that, it really does strike you that you have to do something now.”

"Climate emergency"

The students are calling on the Government to declare a “climate emergency” and have issued a list of six demands to lawmakers.

The demands, which were based on a survey sent to students across the country, include:

  • A transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030 and a pledge to leave all Irish fossil fuels in the ground.
  • A “climate emergency” declaration – including a national information campaign.
  • A “socially fair” transition to a carbon-neutral society, preventing need for regular citizens to carry the economic burden.
  • Immediate implementation of all the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change
  • Stronger regulations on corporations that are causing the climate crisis.
  • The implementation of a ‘Green New Deal’ that ensures all young school leavers can have livelihoods that don’t damage the planet.

Ms Mercier Redmond said there has been a real lack of political leadership on climate change.

“I think there are a lot of people saying there are going to do stuff but not following through,” she said.

“That is why we are doing this strike – to really put pressure on them to actually start taking action.

“If they don’t start taking action after this strike we will continue until we see action being taken.”

Norway Climate Strike Several thousand schoolchildren take part in a climate protest in Bergen, Norway, 14-03-2019. Image: Marit Hommedal/ NTB

Climate Strike

The School Climate Strike movement was started by Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg who began the strike outside the Swedish Parliament on her own eight months ago.

She has spent almost every Friday since August protesting outside the building and demanding that politicians bring Sweden in line with the Paris climate agreement.

It emerged yesterday that Ms Thunberg has now been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her efforts to inspire action on the crisis.

In a Twitter post yesterday, she said: “Tomorrow we schoolstrike for our future. And we will continue to do so for as long as it takes.”

“Adults are more than welcome to join us. Unite behind the science.”

Greta Thunberg Climate Strike Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg at a major a rally in Hamburg Germany, 01-03-2019. Image: Daniel Bockwoldt/dpa

Writing in The Guardian this morning she said: “This movement had to happen, we didn’t have a choice.”

“The vast majority of climate strikers taking action today aren’t allowed to vote.

“Imagine for a second what that feels like.

“Despite watching the climate crisis unfold, despite knowing the facts, we aren’t allowed to have a say in who makes the decisions about climate change.

“And then ask yourself this: wouldn’t you go on strike too, if you thought doing so could help protect your own future?”

She said scientists have been “very clear about what we need to do to tackle climate change” and the students are asking political leaders to unite behind the science.

“There is no grey area when it comes to survival. There’s no less bad option. “That’s why young people are striking in every corner of the globe, and it’s why we are asking that older people join us on the streets too.

“When our house is burning we cannot just leave it to the children to pour water on the flames – we need the grownups to take responsibility for sparking the blaze in the first place.

“So for once, we’re asking grownups to follow our lead: we can’t wait any longer.”


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