Extinction crisis and climate emergency hot on Cork MEP hustings agenda

Irish must vote en masse for biodiversity & climate in upcoming elections, says environmental coalition

It’s vital that citizens voice their concerns to MEP candidates over climate change and biodiversity loss in advance of the European elections, Ireland’s leading environmental coalition has said.

It’s vital that citizens voice their concerns to MEP candidates over climate change and biodiversity loss in advance of the European elections, Ireland’s leading environmental coalition has said.

The Environmental Pillar – a coalition of over 30 national environmental NGOs – said that the need is even more pressing following the release of a new UN-backed report this week that found one million plant and animal species are now threatened with extinction.

A report from the World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London released last October also found that 60 per cent of the world’s large animals had disappeared since the 1970s.

Ireland is not immune to such impacts with one-third of our 97 wild bee species threatened with extinction. Recent findings also show that over 60 per cent of the 202 species of commonly occurring birds in Ireland are now on red and amber conservation lists.

To aid citizens in raising their environmental concerns with MEP candidates, the Pillar is hosting a public debate in the Metropole Hotel in Co Cork tomorrow evening.  The event will be moderated by Bernadette Connolly, the Coordinator of the Cork Environmental Forum.

Candidates confirmed to attend include MEP Liadh Ní Riada, Sinn Fein; Senator Grace O’Sullivan, Green Part; Councillor Malcolm Byrne, Fianna Fáil; and Adrienne Wallace, People Before Profit.

The sold-out Cork event will provide an opportunity for 150 citizens to directly signal to MEP candidates the ambition that they want to see at a European level, with climate change also set to be a hot topic as Europe needs a radical policy shift to cut emissions by 2050 to avert the worst climate impacts.

Following the event, citizens should be better equipped to vote for candidates that want to take action to tackle the climate and biodi9versity crisis, especially as the European Parliament will play an instrumental role in major decisions on a raft of green topics.

The public debates follows previous hustings in Carrick on Shannon and Dublin where over 200 ticket holders gauged where candidates stand on key environmental and climate issues.

Environmental 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 will be 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.

“We, as human beings, are just one of the estimated two billion species on the planet.  Right now, through our bad behaviour, we are driving millions of species into extinction. Many of these species we haven’t even identified, let alone studied.

“In so doing we are plotting the course of our own extinction too. Our food production, healthy soils, fresh water and clean air are all maintained in delicate balance by the complexity of biodiversity.”

The debate moderator, Bernadette Connolly, said:“We welcome this event taking place in Cork just two weeks before the public cast their vote. This is a great opportunity for Irish citizens to contribute towards charting the way forward to a more progressive and inspiring new vision for Europe and building a sustainable future for the EU.

 “It is an opportunity for people to gauge the level of commitment candidates have in protecting and restoring our habits and natural resources, in lessening the climate impacts of agriculture, energy and transport and reducing the fines and court cases on environmental issues for breaches of EU legislation.

 “I would hope that that the public’s response makes the candidates think long and hard about the kind of elected officials they want to put Ireland at the forefront of progressive environmental policy in Europe.”