Students have taken to the street to participate in School Strikes for Climate, the largest global climate protest. Across Ireland, there are ten rallies with the largest being held in Dublin.
The climate change protest started in Dublin’s Custom House and made its way to Merrion Square. In attendance, nine year-old Matt and Lola are making their voice heard. Lola helped make their signs, one of which reads: “Don’t play with our planet.”
School Strikes for Climate aims to demand politicians and business act in response to the current environmental crisis. Haritha Olaganathan said, “It’s absolutely incredible the number of students who have come out on the streets today. We have identified that the climate crisis is beyond individual actions. […] It is really clear that these switches, however important, are not accessible to a huge layer of people and the fault is really with the corporations that will continue to exploit our planet to no end for the greed of profit.”
Matthew Mollohan said, “I’m here because I don’t really have a choice at this stage. You can make all the personal changes you want in your life but unless people get out like this and actually demand system change from the government, we are not really going to see any really big differences.”
The global youth movement was inspired by the work of Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg. School Strikes for Climate comes at a critical moment as the UN climate action summit will be held in New York on Monday, with a separate youth summit being held on Saturday. In relation to the Dublin protest, Jess Vant said, “Today is one of the most important days in environmental history. The more people who show up the more effect it will have.”
Valery Molay and Jack O’Connor have been announced by Tánaiste as Ireland’s UN Youth Delegates for the upcoming climate action summit. Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney, TD said, “It was a pleasure to meet Valery and Jack, and congratulate them on their selection as Ireland’s UN Youth Delegates. In this role, they will work alongside other young people from Ireland and around the world on a range of vital issues. The engagement that Valery and Jack will undertake will strengthen awareness of the vital work of the UN and the greater role Ireland is playing on the world stage.”
The delegates highlighted the importance of action ahead of their attendance at the summit, “This summer alone, we have seen the lungs of the earth on fire, extreme heat like never seen before across Europe and strong hurricanes destroy millions of livelihoods. More importantly, a generation that has decided not to look the other way while our future goes out in flame has taken centre stage. We may have contributed the least to this crisis, but if world leaders, corporations, industries and individuals do not step up to the challenge, our entire generation will be condemned to a gloomy future.”
The Climate Psychology Alliance (CPA) have said that adults must recognise young people’s fears and offer support in taking action during the global climate strike. A CPA executive, Caroline Hickman, said, “There is no doubt in my mind that they are being emotionally impacted […] That real fear from children needs to be taken seriously by adults.”
The American Psychological Association acknowledged a raise in ‘eco-anxiety’ in young people, but further research is required.
School Strikes for Climate highlights the power of the younger generation as they fight and demand action in relation to their future. As thousands of students and people turn out in attendance for the global climate protest and make their voices heard loud and clear, this shows the positive power of change and community.
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