September 20th, 2019
Thousands of Irish students across the country will mobilise today as part of an international school strike calling for urgent climate action from world leaders.
Alongside major rallies in cities such as Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, almost 70 local communities are taking action to support student-led groups such as Fridays for Future Ireland and the Schools Climate Action Network.
This global day of action already has over 4,000 registered events worldwide. Things are already heating up, with more than 300,000 taking to the streets in Australia.
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg will be joining protesters in New York later today as the city prepares to host the UN Climate Action Summit next week.
Ms Thunberg has repeatedly told global leaders that she want their action, not words of praise or support.
But what exact action are Irish school strikers demanding?
List of demands
Demanded actions by Irish young protesters can be found on a few different websites, but all sing the same tune: Ireland must do its part in a global effort to radically reduce emissions.
A week before the first international school strike in March, students met with politicians to map out what policy changes they are seeking.
The Irish movement is asking the Government to communicate the severity of the climate crisis to the public and to build school curriculums that convey it to students of all ages.
A transition to a carbon-neutral Ireland must be “socially fair” and stronger regulations on corporations directly responsible for causing the climate crisis should be implemented.
Students also want to see policy moves that will deeply reduce emissions from the agricultural that currently accounts for one-third of the state’s total emissions footprint.
The movement is asking the Government to enact all the recommendations of the Citizen’s Assembly on Climate Change and to implement a Green New Deal for Ireland.
The state should also ensure that once students have left school they can have “livelihoods that don’t damage the Earth”.
Finally, students have demanded that all fossil fuel supplies be left in the ground, that no new fossil fuel infrastructure construction take place, and that Ireland has 100 per cent renewable electricity supply by 2030.
“I think all of [their demands] reflect the severity and the urgency of the challenge and the response needed,” Dr Diarmuid Torney told The Green News.
The DCU academic, who sat on the expert advisory panel for the Citizens Assembly on climate action, said that the goal of achieving entirely renewable electricity by 2030 is the demand that stands out in terms of “ambition and scale”.
While not “theoretically unachievable”, Dr Torney said that fully integrating renewable sources like wind into the grid remains a challenge with current technologies. He added, however, that research and local innovations around the world are trying to meet it.
Dr Torney is one of a group of Irish academics to sign an open letter “wholeheartedly” supporting the global climate strike movement. The international letter signed by over 1,100 academics states that the students’ concerns “rest on solid, incontrovertible evidence”.
Dr Joseph Curtin, a member of the Climate Change Advisory Council, said that, science aside, the most important thing here is the “moral clarity being provided by the kids”.
“Their whole lives are going to be affected by what we’re doing to the atmosphere and the climate and what we’re doing to biodiversity,” he said.
“They’re looking us in the eye and saying ‘you need to act.’”
At the May mass climate strike, Beth Doherty of School Strike for Climate did just that, sending a warning shot to politicians for future elections.
“We’re on the streets today, but in a few years, we’ll all be voting. And we will remember the politicians who said something, who did something, who took the steps, and we will remember the ones who stood back and did absolutely nothing to ensure we have a future.”