One of the student organisers of the youth-led climate strikes taking place in cities and towns across Ireland today says the Government must do more to tackle climate change.
Mira Henchi, 15, a student in Cork Educate Together Secondary School said radical action at both individual and government level has to take place: “This crisis is an intergenerational issue – we're all in this together, young and old."
Mira, a third-year student, who has helped organise student strikes in Cork, said people should come out to protest against the lack of action on the climate crisis: “We really need to show the Government as adults and children that we are annoyed and are determined to keep marching until radical action is taken.”
Mira said previous school strikes in March and May of this year have shown that they make a huge difference in voting patterns.
Young people influenced the way their parents voted in the European and local elections by telling them they had to think of their future.
Mira does not think it will be easy for the Government to change. “All the Government is interested in is short-term gain,” she said.
Lisa-Sky Dunne, a third-year student at North Wicklow Educate Together Secondary School in Bray, said they have made incredible progress since they first started marching: I think we have raised so much awareness about climate change that the Government can't hide anymore. This isn't just a youth strike anymore – it's more than that.”
The 14-year-old student said they are going against the wishes of authority figures in taking strike action but they are not taking the action lightly; they are doing it to prove a point.
Lisa-Sky said she knows that several schools did not agree with what they are doing but she thinks parents should encourage their children to march anyway.
Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Burton, said young people have led the way in highlighting the urgency of taking climate action and it is important that they are listened to.
“I have heard the voices of those protesting today. By being a powerful voice, they are paying testament to the damage that is being done to their inheritance. They have a message for governments but also every sector of society. Now is the time to take action and protect their future," he said.
The minister will travel to New York on Friday to attend a conference on global efforts to tackle climate disruption. Mr Bruton said it will be the first opportunity to bring Ireland's Climate Action Plan to a world stage and to learn what is happening in other countries. He said the plan has been developed to deliver "significant change" over the next 10 years.
Mr Bruton will also attend the Youth Climate Action Summit on Saturday where he will attend a session led by youth activists, including Greta Thunberg.