“As the sea levels rise, so do we”: climate protesters take to the streets of Dublin

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6 November 2021

Hundreds gathered in Dublin today as part of a global march for climate justice while international climate negotiations continue in Scotland. 

The march began at the Garden of Remembrance and finished outside Leinster House with demonstrations also held in Galway, Cork, Limerick and Belfast. 

The cry for “system change, not climate change” came loudly in response to the ongoing COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

As the crowd started to gather, speakers from political parties and other activist groups called for action and sustainable growth. Many sought to draw attention to the major contributors to Irish emissions, like agriculture, and politicians’ failure to address these industries in meaningful legislation.

“Media coverage of COP26 might give the impression that climate change is getting the attention it deserves,” said Ruth Coppinger of The Socialist Party as she began her speech. “But Greta Thunberg cut through the spin: COP26 is nothing more than ‘business as usual’ and ‘blah, blah, blah.’”

In a theme that was maintained throughout the demonstrations, some of those in attendance spoke to the disastrous effects now seen through reliance on the ‘old system.’

One attendee, Dubliner Paul O’Neill, spoke on how the push for climate justice is about fighting for the planet and the people that live on it.

“I think it’s about opposing a system that prioritises profit over the people that live within it,” said O’Neill. “Justice is about fighting for equal rights; fighting for housing; fighting for a wage, and it’s about fighting for a future for our children.”

Reflecting the youth-led element of the climate movement in recent years, hundreds of teenagers and students came out in full force to support the march. 

Jesse, one speaker with global student protest movement Fridays for Future, spoke to the sincerity of feeling behind this movement for younger generations.

“Two years ago, 7 million of us took to the streets to demand action, yet leaders still failed to act with the necessary urgency,” she said. “Time and time again these leaders have left us with empty promises.”

As the march reached the gates of Leinster House, People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith took over MC duties as speakers came out in criticism against the leaders and lobbyists that have left so many people anxious about their future.

Agriculture was a huge target for demonstrations at the Dublin protest, as People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy compared agri-businesses in Ireland to the powerful fossil fuel lobbyists in the United States in a statement difficult to ignore.

Farmers and representatives for the farming industry were also in attendance to call for a ‘Just Transition’ as current trends are particularly unsustainable. 

“We’re small farmers, we farm peatland which is the most valuable land on earth for storing carbon,” said Gerry Loftus of the Rural Ireland Organisation.

“Because of the industrial model for Irish agriculture, we have beef barons as well as dairy barons that would have us move off our land and allow our land to store emissions for them and we will not accept that,” he added. 

As government leaders look to reduce Irish methane emissions by 10 per cent — a significant deviation from the COP26 goals of 30 per cent — activists at Saturday’s protest came to implore leaders to listen, to avoid the ‘blah, blah, blah’ and focus on a goal of climate justice for all. 

“As the sea levels rise, so do we. We rise until we are heard,” Cllr Catherine Stocker said.

By Micheál O’Connell

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