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After Applause for Ireland's Climate Emergency Declaration, Climate Campaigners Say: 'Now Act'

"Declaring an emergency means absolutely nothing unless there is action to back it up. That means the government having to do things they don't want to do."

The Irish Parliament declared a climate emergency on Thursday after campaigning by the grassroots group Extinction Rebellion. (Photo: @ExtinctRebelsIE/Twitter)

Climate action advocates applauded the Irish Parliament on Thursday after lawmakers officially declared a climate emergency—while warning that the declaration must be accompanied by concrete action.

Pushed by the Irish Green Party in response to the demands of the grassroots movement Extinction Rebellion, the declaration was added to a parliamentary report on climate action.

The document calls on lawmakers to "examine how [the Irish government] can improve its response to the issue of biodiversity loss."

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan called the step "historic" while noting that the government must now fulfill the other major demands of climate campaigners, including shifting to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.

"Declaring an emergency means absolutely nothing unless there is action to back it up," Ryan said. "That means the government having to do things they don't want to do."

Extinction Rebellion in Ireland agreed, holding a rally outside Parliament on Friday "to demand our government takes real action on the climate and ecological crisis."

Ireland was among the first countries in the world to declare a climate emergency. British Parliament and the Welsh Assembly both voted to make declarations last week, while Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon issued the declaration in late April.

Both countries made the move after Extinction Rebellion spent more than a week occupying landmarks across London as well as in Ireland, demanding that governments "tell the truth" about the climate crisis by declaring an emergency.

The group also wants countries around the world to stop all greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and to establish citizens' assemblies to lead on climate and ecological justice issues.

Ireland's climate emergency declaration was pushed by the country's Citizens' Assembly, which was established in 2016 to address "some of the most important issues facing Ireland's future," including the climate.  

Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist who addressed Extinction Rebellion last month and who has catalyzed millions around the globe to attend climate action marches, applauded the Irish Parliament's decision—and called on other countries to declare emergencies as well.

"Great news from Ireland!!" Thunberg tweeted. "Who is next?"

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