May 25th, 2019
The green wave across European and local elections is a clear signal that Irish people want urgent action to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises.
If the RTE/TG4 exit poll predictions hold firm, then the stand-out performance of the Green Party is a clear sign of the shifting public position on the two most pressing issues of our generation.
This swing in voters’ preference – expected to be seen across Europe this weekend – is fuelled by people’s shock at the fact that one million plant and animal species are now threatened with extinction as we run out of time to tackle our runaway emissions.
The fact that the public is aware of these issues on the doors is a testament to the likes of Extinction Rebellion and the school strike movement that held its second international day of action yesterday, drawing in students from across Ireland.
As over 50 Irish scientists and academics wrote in an open letter in support of the movement earlier this week, our youth has managed to get the alarm heard that scientists have been sounding for decades.
The wave is also down to the work put in by the Greens over the past five years and the dedication of environmental and climate NGOs to bring these issues to the fore.
I was lucky enough to be involved in organising three hustings with the Environmental Pillar in early May for the European elections where citizens laid out the level of ambition that they want to see in Brussels.
The fact that all three events sold out in no time was striking, as just a couple of years ago it would have been a slog to try and fill half the room for such events.
From the results of the exit poll, it is clear that the concerns that citizens outlined at the hustings were reflected in the wider population through the ballot box on Friday.
The mandate for politicians is now obvious – act now and act boldly to make the right choices in environmental protection, in nature-friendly farming, in sustainable energy, in public transport, and in housing.
There can be no doubt that, like never before, these elections were climate and biodiversity elections.