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."
Good news at the end of the Dail Motion today supporting the report of the Climate Action Committee, which I chair. We now have cross party support in declaring a climate and biodiversity emergency. Action now needed. #ClimateEmergencyhttps://t.co/XfzgCi0tgw
— Hildegarde Naughton (@1Hildegarde) May 9, 2019
Slowly but surely governments are beginning to wake up to the biggest crisis on earth - Ireland declares climate emergency https://t.co/W5c2HDvKfK
— Chris Packham (@ChrisGPackham) May 9, 2019
Ireland has declared a climate emergency!!! This is a huge step in the right direction. This is exactly the time to keep up the pressure, we will ensure that our government delivers on exactly as they promise. #fridaysforfuture https://t.co/gEP7qDMjAt
— Fridays For Future Cork (@F4FCork) May 9, 2019
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."
The Dáil has declared a climate emergency But it means nothing unless there is action. Come to our Rally at the Dáil a to demand our government takes REAL action on the climate and ecological crisis! #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateEmergency https://t.co/lJGuv4xu4p
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— Extinction Rebellion Ireland (@ExtinctRebelsIE) May 10, 2019
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?"