Climate hot on the agenda as Irish youth tell MEP candidates to act on climate

Niall Sargent Press Releases

Young Irish citizens on the frontline of climate activism took centre stage at an event in the capital this evening to tell MEP candidates what needs to be done in Brussels to tackle the crisis of their generation.  

The Loud & Clear! Youth views on Climate­ event at the European Parliament office in Co Dublin featured a range of speakers from groups leading the line in pushing policymakers to take action to avert the climate breakdown that is jeopardising their future. [1]

 The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned in 2018 that we only have 12 years to take concrete action to possibly limit the average global temperature to the 1.5°C threshold. [2] 

The Parliament’s 700 elected representatives will play an instrumental role in major decisions on a raft of climate actions such as emissions targets and investment in renewables. 

The young speakers had an unparalleled chance to directly tell candidates that they want a European Parliament that recognises the scale and urgency of the climate crisis and to also ask them what they plan to do about this existential issue if elected. [3] 

The packed panel included Beth Doherty from School Strikes for Climate who outlined what the movement is demanding and how MEP candidates can help us progress quickly towards a stable climate. Last month, 15,000 students across Ireland marched to demand that the Irish Government adopt immediate and effective climate policy. [4]

 Beth said: “Ireland is the worst performer for climate action in the EU. We are 20 points below the EU average and we also rank 13th from the bottom out of the 56 developed countries in the Climate Change Performance Index.

“Ireland will come nowhere near meeting our EU 2020 targets. The fact that our government is happy to allow Ireland to fall so far behind and contribute so greatly to climate change, is harrowing to me.”

“Young people are the future of Europe. We’ve striked for our futures, for climate action, to be listened to and we need the MEPs- candidates and elected- to listen to this. They cannot go into this election ignoring climate change and putting forward no climate policy.

“At this panel, we want to speak to them about this, ask them whether or not they see climate as a priority, and if they have plans to implement concrete measures, radical climate action rather than just empty promises.”

Aideen O’Dochartaigh from Not Here Not Anywhere also discussed the campaign group’s goal of a fossil free future for Ireland and how MEPs can push for changes in Europe to support this. [5] 

Aideen said: “Climate action means committing to a Fossil Free Future, in Ireland, in Europe, and around the world. We must not pursue any further fossil fuel exploration nor construct any new fossil fuel infrastructure and this is an area where MEPs can have significant influence.

“For example, they can vote to redirect to renewable energy projects the considerable levels of EU funding which still go to fossil fuel projects, including the proposed Shannon LNG terminal which would lock Ireland into fossil energy for at least 40 years.”

Conor O’Brien of Young Friends of the Earth spoke about the proposed Common Agricultural Policy reform and the work of the group with young rural and urban farmers exploring the most just avenues for food sovereignty.

Conor said: “The Common Agricultural Policy in its current form is not producing results that the people who pay for it and who feel its effects most strongly, would like. As it stands, 80 per cent of payments are made to 20 per cent of farms.

“At the same time, we are seeing a degradation of rural communities across the continent. The CAP could do more to halt this process by supporting young farmers in particular, and it could protect our environment rather than incentivising intensive industrial farming. These elections represent our window to affect policy change on CAP through national and international efforts.”

Clodagh Daly from Climate Case Ireland outlined her research for Friends of the Earth on the European Investment Bank’s funding of Gas Networks Ireland and what the Parliament can do to reshape European energy funding away from fossil fuel infrastructure. 

Clodagh said“The Paris Agreement calls for finance flows to be consistent with a pathway toward low greenhouse gas emissions. The European Investment Bank, both as the biggest public bank in the world, and as one of the world’s biggest funders of energy projects, must stop financing new and existing fossil fuel infrastructure as a matter of urgency.

“MEPs must call on the EIB to radically reshape their energy lending policies to supporting community-owned renewable energy projects. If the EU is to really be a leader on climate action, we need to talk about where the EU is allocating its capital.” 

This event was organised by Friends of the Earth Ireland and the Environmental Pillar with the support of the European Union Parliament office in Dublin. 

ENDS

[1] Loud and Clear! Youth views on Climate: https://tinyurl.com/y3evseg7

[2]Summary for Policymakers of IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C: http://tinyurl.com/y9jxdc39

[3] MEPs and candidates in attendance included:

  • MEP Lynn Boylan, Sinn Fein
  • Grace O’Sullivan, Saoirse McHugh and Ciaran Cuffe , Green Party
  • Alex White, Labour Party
  • Gary Gannon, Social Democrats
  • Gillian Brien, People Before Profit
[4]The School Strikes for Climate movement is an international movement of school students who are deciding not to attend classes and instead take part in demonstrations to demand action to prevent further global warming and climate change. https://tinyurl.com/y5r54l6d

[5] NHNA is a grassroots non-partisan group against the development of new drilling and extraction of fossil fuels both onshore and offshore in Ireland. http://tinyurl.com/y2k9nmfm

Additional Quotes from event organisersEnvironmental Pillar coordinator Michael Ewing said:

“We need a fundamental rethink of the kind of Europe we want to really bridge the gap between the EU and what its young citizens want in terms of environmental and biodiversity protection. 

“This public debate is an opportunity for MEP candidates and experts to hear the views of many Irish young citizens on the frontline of climate activism on the kind of Europe they want that leads on climate action and biodiversity protection.

 “Our younger generations are crying out for a vision for the future of Europe that puts climate action, biodiversity protection and environmental justice at the core of the bloc’s policies. 

“I would hope that the speakers’ words make the candidates think long and hard about the kind of elected officials they want to put Ireland at the forefront of progressive climate policy in Europe. 

Meaghan Carmody of Friends of the Earth and event moderator, said:

“Greenhouse gas emissions need to be slashed drastically as soon as possible, with our global society reaching net zero emissions by 2050. “One thing is clear, we are not on this pathway, and the recent wave of school student activism clearly shows the appetite for action emanating from younger generations. 

“This event will provide young people concerned about the onslaught of climate change a platform to outline their position on key environmental and climate issues before polling stations open on 23 May. 

“Clearly, Europe needs a fundamental rethinking in terms of climate and biodiversity protection if the bloc is serious about protecting our future and our younger generations should have their say on how our elected officials do so.”

Niall SargentClimate hot on the agenda as Irish youth tell MEP candidates to act on climate