Five Clare students this week addressed elected representatives of the local authority demanding action on climate change.
Kate Harty, Eleanor Dagnell-Wise, Katie Duson, Áine Dempsey and Wiame Kanane all of whom protested on climate change in March while Eleanor in February was the sole student in Clare to demonstrate while standing on her own at the Daniel O’Connell monument in Ennis.
On Monday, they were invited to speak to Clare councillors. “We’re here to talk about something called climate change. Have you heard of it? It doesn’t seem like it, because if you had heard of climate change, then surely you would be doing everything in your power to prevent it by now. If you have heard of climate change, then surely school children wouldn’t need to be here to remind you about the subject,” Harty began.
“We are secondary school students, not politicians, nor scientists. We went on strike on the 15th of March to demand that you must listen to the 97% of climate scientists who agree that global warming trends over the past century are caused due to human activity. We have to show you that our future is not to be disposed of like the single-use plastics that pollute our planet today because of politicians that refuse to take our future seriously”. She continued, “Do what is right, not what is easy. It’s easy to sit back and think that if the national government aren’t acting, we don’t need to act either. But we do need action, and fast”.
Eight recommendations were proposed by the five students. These were to declare a climate emergency, increasing energy resources in Clare, the introduction of an outright ban on single-use plastics, to provide grants for zero waste shops and businesses, an investment in sustainable transport methods, school buses to collect Ennis students going to Ennis schools, more frequent pedestrianisation of main streets and the rewilding of Council owned land.
Concluding their presentation, Katie Duson quoted Greta Thunberg, the sixteen year old climate activist that kick started the protests around the world, “We’ve had 30 years of pep-talking and selling positive ideas. And I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work. Because if it would have, the emissions would have gone down by now. They haven’t”. The Colaiste Múire student added, “Thank you for listening, but enough talk, now we must act”.
Fine Gael’s Johnny Flynn praised the group for their “very solid practical ideas”. His colleague, Cllr Joe Cooney said, “Ye are standing up for what ye believe in and ye are dead right” while Independent Christy Curtin maintained “Ye are an example to the whole county”.
“It’s a no brainer, we all know it has to happen and it’s up to Central Government,” Sinn Féin’s Mike McKee stated. Ennis councillor Mary Howard revealed she was a proud Coláiste graduate to see the group representing the school so well while Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy admitted, “I realised how ignorant I have been not only as a public representative but as someone on this earth. It is with a great sense of pride that you’re here today educating us but also demanding action”.
Newmarket-on-Fergus representative, Pat McMahon suggested the five students return to the Council annually to monitor and assess how the local authority is dealing with climate change and his views were reiterated by Cathaoirleach, Michael Begley.