By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA
Students and activists have accused the government of inaction on climate change at a protest outside Leinster House.
The demonstration, organised by students at Trinity College Dublin, coincided with the Cop27 UN climate conference being held in the Egyptian city of Sharm El-Sheikh.
Activists with homemade signs sat cross-legged on Molesworth Street while listening to speakers criticise world leaders attending the summit, as well as Egypt’s human rights record.
The words “fossil fuel RIP” were spray-painted on the pillars at the gates of Leinster House, and the crowd chanted “system change not climate change” as they moved outside the gates.
One speaker told the crowd that Transport Minister Eamon Ryan had said previous climate protests had an impact on government, and appealed to Irish leaders to “listen to the science and listen to young people”.
Trinity student Lean, who did not give his surname, said that the current way of living “should not be seen as normal”.
“It is a system of colonialism, extraction and massive inequality across countries and across classes.
“This is why our demand should be system change, not climate change,” he told the protest.
Secondary school student Kate Devitt told the crowd that “the science is clear” and “we need to uproot the system which is killing our world”.
“In order to right these wrongs, we must come together. Governments, corporations and individuals, working together to achieve real change, radical change.
“This time must be different, our government needs to listen. We need more than just a photo opportunity for those in power.
“If they really cared, I wouldn’t be here today. We wouldn’t be here begging for action.
“We wouldn’t be here skipping school and striking on the streets to demand action if they were actually listening. They hear us but they don’t listen.
“Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister Ryan, your inaction speaks volumes and the world is listening.”
Professor Clare Kelly accused the government of thinking “why do today what we can put off until tomorrow”.
While addressing the crowd, she asked of Taoiseach Micheál Martin: “Can you explain to me, a Thaoisigh, how being the EU’s third highest per capita emitter of greenhouse gases is consistent with doing everything in our power to ensure a sustainable planet?
“Can you explain to me, a Thaoisigh, how setting sectoral emissions reductions targets that are neither consistent with our own climate legislation nor specify the level that will make them actionable or enforceable is consistent with doing everything in our power to ensure a sustainable planet?
“And can you explain to me, finally a Thaoisigh, how people having to decide between eating or heating while energy companies turn and report record profits is consistent with doing everything in our power to ensure a sustainable planet?”
Among the groups at the protest were the Climate Justice Coalition, Extinction Rebellion, Fridays For Future, One Planet For All, Oxfam Ireland, People Before Profit, and Rosa.