One in three Irish people see climate as pressing issue

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March 4th, 2019

One in three Irish adults believe that climate change is the most pressing environmental issue of our time, new research from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows.

The EPA study found that 86 per cent of adults also believe the environment to be a “valuable asset” to the people of Ireland. The findings were released in conjunction with the watchdog’s 2018 Year in Review report.

“We are pleased to see that so many people recognise the importance of our environment as an asset to the country,” EPA Director General Laura Burke said of the survey’s results.

“Many of today’s environmental problems require a cross-sectoral, joined-up Government, as well as a societal response,” she added

“It is clear to us from our everyday interactions, that the public, business and broader society have a greater understanding of the link between reduced emissions and a clean environment, and our health, our wellbeing, our economy, our very culture.”

Among 18 to 34-year-olds surveyed, almost half found climate change to be the most pressing environmental issue. This indicates, according to An Taisce’s John Gibbons, that climate change is “increasingly being recognized as the defining issue of our time” among younger generations.

Student climate protest February 2019 Photo; Kayle Crosson
Student climate protest February 2019 Photo; Kayle Crosson

“This is clear with the number of students joining the Friday climate strikes,” he added. The Friday for Futures climate strikes, inspired by 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, have been spreading around the world and have made Thunberg a household name.

The movement began in August 2018 when Greta Thunberg began staging a solo protest on the steps of the Swedish parliament, demanding that her government take greater action in addressing climate change.

Irish Fridays for Futures have been taking place throughout the country, including counties Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Limerick, Meath and Tipperary.

Over 350 students and teachers gathered before the Dail last month demanding the government to take greater climate action, and an international day of climate school strikes is set to take place on 15 March.

The Irish government, Mr Gibbons said, continues to treat environmental and climate issues as of “limited importance” and finds the newly released research to show their attitude to be “seriously out of touch with the mood of the public”.

“The government will need to do a lot more than the gesture politics of keep cups and bird boxes if they want to be taken seriously on this crunch issue,” Mr Gibbons said.

By Kayle Crosson

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