Cork students demand rapid, far reaching climate action

Published by Shamim Malekmian on

March 15th, 2019

Around 5,000 students took to the streets of Cork City today to demand a more radical change to climate change policy from the Irish Government.

The students’ Friday vigil was part of a global school strike taking place in more than 100 countries today.

Students in Cork brought the city’s traffic to a standstill, shouting slogan such as: “We won’t let it bloody die, Climate change is not a lie.”

Students in counties Dublin, Limerick, Galway and other Irish cities also joined the global strike to put pressure on the Government to address climate change.

The upsurge of students’ participation in the fight against climate change is inspired by Greta Thunberg, a Swedish teenager, who refused to attend school on Fridays and sat before her country’s parliament instead.

The 16-year-old climate activist, who has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize is protesting adults’ lack of concern for her peers’ future.

Teenagers around the world have now responded to her pleas for demanding a better future from adults.

Saoi O’Connor – arguably Cork City’s very own Greta – has been sitting before Cork City Council for the past two months.

She could not attend today’s protest but expressed satisfaction that her once solitary act has now flowered into a wave of young climate action.

Students were accompanied by a group of drummers and teachers, with the numbers prompting Cork City’s Lord Mayor Mick Finn to come out of the building.

Addressing some concern about students being punished for joining today’s protest, the Lord Mayor told The Green News that the Council fully stands behind the students’ right to protest.  

“I can’t dictate the schools’ policy, but I would encourage them to listen to the students because it is an issue that affects us all,” he said.

Lord Mayor Mick Finn Photo: Shamim Malekmian

He said that shedding light on the state of our climate is crucial as “we all share the same planet.”

Mr Finn told the protesters that the Council is not in charge of setting national policy, but added that he has drawn climate-change-tackling plans to send to the Taoiseach’s office.

Speaking to The Green News some students said that schools have threated them with “suspension” if they joined today’s protest.

“Teachers tell us don’t go to the protest because you are going to get suspended, but what is the point of going to school when we’re not going to have a future?” 17-year-old Chantel McCarthy said.

Caoimhe Cotter, who often protests alongside Saoi O’Connor, also told The Green News said that she was beyond excited that “our group turned from one person to nearly a thousand”

Last October, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published a special report revealing that Europe’s targets do not line up with the urgency of action required to curtail global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

A subsequent report from a team of scientists published in the journal Nature Climate Change also recently warned that the grievances we’re inflicting on our planet would “extend longer than the entire history of human civilisation thus far”.

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Shamim Malekmian

Shamim is a Senior Reporter at The Green News and a contributing writer to the Irish Examiner, Cork Evening Echo and the Dublin Inquirer.