East Cork Student Strike for Climate Change

By Seamus Whelehan

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Students from Gaelscoil Mhainistir Na Corann and St John the Baptist National School joined thousands of pupils across 105 countries to protest for climate change.   The climate strike is part of a growing movement started by 16 year old Greta Thunberg who protested outside the Swedish parliament during school hours last August.

The main strike took place in Cork City with other action also taking place in Cobh.  The pupils who are fed up of the politicians’ lack of action in declaring a state of climate emergency downed pencils and school books to take their climate change message to the streets of Midleton on Friday last.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is backing the students but it’s his Government that they want to enforce a ban on the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure and ensure fossil fuels remain in the ground.  They also want our electricity generated by renewable energy by 2030 and the Government to educate people on the severity of the ecological crisis.

Sixth class students Eadaoin, Grace and Charlotte said “people don’t listen to us on our own but by all the schools coming together our message can be heard.”    You don’t have to be perfect to make a difference, small changes can make a big difference to reduce our impact on the environment, to fight climate change they say.  “Make a Change. There’s no Planet B, act like your house is on fire because it is, we only have one planet and we need to look after it” was the clear message to adults and the Government.

Oscar and Noah from Gaelscoil Mhainistir Na Corann said “by getting rid of animal circuses so the animals can roam free, cutting down on red meat, walk instead of driving, use bees wrap or paper instead of Clingfilm and stop using plastic bottles are all ways we can make a change.”

A draft report from the Joint Oireachtas on climate action revealed we are going to miss, “by a wide margin”, our 2020 target to reduce greenhouse gases. The report says we are also likely to miss our 2030 target, and will struggle to decarbonise by 2050, costing the Exchequer millions in fines.

While a study by the Environmental Protection Agency has found that 86% of us recognise the value of the environment, Ireland is currently ranked the worst in Europe when it comes to our response to global warming. According to the Climate Change Performance Index we are also among the worst countries in the World when it comes to reducing our Carbon emissions.

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