Climate change: Irish Youth Assembly demands action

Image source, RTÉ
Image caption,
The Youth Assembly with Dáil Ceann Comhairle (Speaker) Seán Ó Fearghail, who chaired the session

More than 150 young people discussed how the Republic of Ireland can tackle global warming as they attended the country's first Youth Assembly on climate change.

The delegates were aged between 10 and 17 and met in the Dáil (Irish parliament) on Friday.

The matters discussed ranged from the environment, economics and food to power and education.

It resulted in 10 recommendations to be put to politicians.

"We, the youth of Ireland, call on our elected representatives and on adults to listen," their statement began.

County Donegal delegate Conal O'Boyle, 17, told the assembly that children were united behind the science that proves that we are in the "fast lane to a climate breakdown".

He said members of the Dáil had "embarrassed this country on an international level when it comes to climate action".

The Youth Assembly's 10 recommendations

  • From your corner store to your supermarket, we call on the house to incentivise and obligate the installation of glass doors on open refrigerators
  • For Ireland to ban the importation of fracked gas and invest solely in renewables
  • Implementing measures that will allow that Irish goods be both eco- sustainable and affordable in today's Irish market
  • Implement a tiered tax on emmisions from large companies including those under capital ETS. This tax must be increased every year while threshold decreases, shifting the burden from individuals to corporations
  • Investment in industrial hemp facilities to provide a viable, sustainable and alternative land use for farmers as well as employment in rural Ireland
  • A labelling and pricing system showing the climate impact of food products based on criteria such as impact of packaging and distance travelled
  • Ireland to outlaw acts of ecocide - being the widespread and systematic loss of ecosystems, including climate and cultural damage
  • Protect existing forests and make compulsory that at least 10% of all land owned for agricultural uses is dedicated to forestry
  • A targeted nationwide information campaign to educate the population about the climate crisis regarding the causes, the effects and the solutions
  • Mandatory "sustainability" education from primary level to the workplace including a new compulsory Junior Cycle & optional Leaving Certificate subject

Sioda Monaghan, 14, from County Mayo said the consequences of climate change were happening now and ignoring them was inhumane, cruel and not an option.

Alma Victoria Krause, 16, spoke about the challenges posed by food and farming.

She said farming methods were limiting biodiversity and damaging soil and the production of meats and dairy were highly industrialised.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Ireland is a good example of how young people can become involved in politics, says Leo Varadkar

Speaking to Irish national broadcaster RTÉ, Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar said he was inspired by young people who were fighting climate change.

"They're the ones who understand the science - they're the ones who get it," he added.

"And they are the ones who are demanding action from adults and politicians and from people in power and influence in politics and business and society."

Referring to the recent referendums on same-sex marriage and abortion, Mr Varadkar said: "Ireland is a good example of positive youth involvement in politics so let's have more of it."