May 17th, 2019
Protesters came out in numbers before the Dail yesterday evening calling on the Government to act accordingly on its climate emergency declaration.
The snap rally was organized by Extinction Rebellion Ireland with a number of co-hosts, including Fridays for Future Ireland and Climate Case Ireland.
Last week the Dail declared a climate and biodiversity emergency, one of the key demands of both the student strikers and Extinction Rebellion Ireland.
While welcoming this move, Dr Ciaran O’Carroll of Extinction Rebellion Ireland said optimism didn’t last long as “the day after, our Minister for Climate Action, Richard Bruton, said, ‘we are not in a position now to talk about ceasing fossil fuel exploration’”.
“Our response is clear: we have declared an emergency, now our politicians must act. And that means leaving fossil fuels in the ground,” Dr O’Carroll continued.
Cliona Sharkey of Trocaire echoed her frustration with Minister Bruton’s statement, stating that it “beggar’s belief” that in one breath the government can support declarations of a climate emergency” and “in the next justify continued fossil fuel exploration”.
Action, many speakers at the rally stressed, includes the passing of the Climate Emergency Measures Bill that proceeded to select committee stage in March.
The Bill seeks to amend the Petroleum and Other Minerals Development Act to limit the issuing of new licenses for the exploration and extraction of fossil fuels.
Over 40 licenses currently exist for a range of fossil fuels, with some having contracts up to the late 2020s.
“The solutions are there, the political will isn’t. The Climate Emergency Measures Bill will progress on 11 June, or it will be killed,” Meaghan Carmody of Stop Climate Chaos told the crowd. “This moment is when we show our power and we need everyone,” she added.
Ten-year-old school striker Ruby also addressed the rally, stressing that there is “no bigger emergency” than the threat of climate change.
“Emergency means a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action,” Ruby said.
“But there was no immediate action; they didn’t act like there was an emergency. It’s like an emergency where no one calls 999, and the patient dies,” she continued.
Climate Case Ireland was also among the co-hosting groups of the rally. The campaign is run by Friends of the Irish Environment who brought a high profile climate case against the Irish Government in the High Court in January.
“A declaration is worthless unless meaningful action follows,” Richard Bourke of Climate Case Ireland told the crowd. “Now is the time. The oceans are rising and so are we.”
Earlier this week, the Taoiseach has said that, although symbolic, the declaration of a climate emergency is important and must be followed up through action.