Climate Change Protest - What happens next?
Updated: Jun 26, 2020
On Friday March 15th, an estimated 1.6million students in over 120 countries protested to demand action be taken by governments to tackle the climate crisis. People took to the streets to declare their commitment to reversing the effects of climate change, urging leaders to do the same. In Ireland, many protests were held across the country, with the biggest being in Dublin and Cork.
Preparing for the National Protest
Prior to the strike itself, Clic News spoke to Jenny Stanley, a 6th class teacher at Donabate Portane Educate Together National School. Their school became aware of the climate strikes after Stanley attended Educate Together's Ethical Education Conference, after which she says her “eyes were really opened”. This also led to Educate Together announcing their support for any of their schools who decided to strike.
In the days leading up to the 15th, many groups/schools spoke about how this protest cannot be the only one of its kind, a thought which was echoed by Jenny, “I think there’s a need for continuity, one stand-alone statement is powerful, but the government needs to be shown that this isn’t going away. These are the future voters and they [government] have a responsibility to these young people.”
AV Room Meeting: Students meet with TD’s
On March 6th, 40 students from around the country attended a meeting with ministers and TD’s in the Dáil’s AV room. During this meeting, they presented the government with their 6 demands;
1. The Government ensures that Ireland uses 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2030.
2. The Government declares a climate emergency and prioritise the protection of life on Earth.
3. The Government should not allow any new fossil fuel infrastructure to be built.
4. We demand of the Government that it makes transitioning to a CO2-neutral Ireland socially fair.
5. The Government carries out all the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on climate change. We demand that the recommendations be implemented immediately.
6. The Government communicates the severity of the ecological crisis to the general public and publishes regular reports of their progress.
Clic Speaks to Minister Richard Bruton at the Demonstration
Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton attended the protest last Friday, telling Clic News that “It is great to see this level of passion and it hopefully will give momentum”.
When asked what the Government plan to do moving forward, the Minister said “we’ve already taken significant steps, we have just committed to an electric car charging network with a grant of €10,000 for people who want to purchase them already in place.”
When asked about the other types of pollution that contribute to the crisis, the Minister said “We will start with the big users [such as transport, building and enterprise], we have to look at what sort of fuel people are using, and if we can get them to move away from fossil-based systems. Yes of course reducing single use plastics definitely has a role to play. But in terms of the big impact, you’re talking about those other wider sectors that involve us all; how we heat our homes, how we travel.”
The Minister also spoke about improving the agricultural sector; “There are real opportunities to for agriculture to step up to the plate. Yes of course there is constraints because of the methane created by cattle and sheep. The key will be getting a Common Agricultural Policy that supports farmers in making that journey.”
He added “The truth is that the government can’t pay for all the change that we need, so this is about turning all the passion and momentum into practical changes. Long term it will pay off, we’ll have a better country, better society, and a more healthy people, but the government can’t do this alone.”