Over 150 young people in Ireland on Friday shamed lawmakers and demanded sufficient action to address the climate crisis as they took part in a first of its kind event in the lower house of the parliament.
"The kids are united... behind the science that proves that we're currently in the fast lane, propelling ourselves toward catastrophic climate breakdown. And unless we do something radical now, we will stay in that fast lane until it is too late to move off it," 17-year -old Conal O'Boyle of Donegal said at the Dáil as part of the Youth Assembly on Climate Action.
Conal O'Boyle, who is 17 years-old from Co.Donegal giving the introduction to the #YouthAssemblyOnClimate, kicking off an impressive morning for the delegates and their arguments. He also spoke on behalf of the Power group. @oboyleconal @OireachtasNews #RTÉonClimate pic.twitter.com/4SCkM2XWb0— RTÉ news2day (@news2dayRTE) November 15, 2019
The climate assembly was convened by national public broadcaster RTE and the Dáil. It included participants ranging from 10-17 years old representing the county's 26 counties. With 157 young climate activists present, their number matched that of the lawmakers, or TDs, as they're known.
The Irish Times reported:
The symbolic gathering marked a shift "from the streets to the seats"; from unprecedented protests across Ireland over the past year—prompted by the FridaysForFuture movement and school strikers—o their representatives taking over the powerhouse of Irish democracy for a day.
The event featured speeches from a number of selected youths as well as workshop sessions in which participants formulated recommendations for the government.
Supporters were also gathered outside the building echoing the demand for climate action:
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The assembly was presided over by house chair Seán Ó Fearghaíl, who said he admired the young activists "enormously" but said that "generating fear, worry, and upset will generate headlines," and suggested the youth instead "leave fear at the door and enter your discussions with optimism and realism."
The young activists, some of whose speeches were amplified on social media by RTE, spoke with clarity about the severity of the climate and ecological crises and need to make making fundamental, structural changes in sectors including agriculture and energy.
Katelyn Culleton, who is 11 years old from Galway, speaking at the #YouthAssemblyOnClimate on behalf of the Environment group. She is the youngest key speaker of this morning's session. #RTÉonClimate pic.twitter.com/gcimB8yiTH— RTÉ news2day (@news2dayRTE) November 15, 2019
The delegates came up with a list of 10 recommendations for the government to take. The list includes Ireland banning "the importation of fracked gas" and investing "solely in renewables." It also calls for the country "to outlaw acts of ecocide—being the widespread and systematic loss of ecosystems, including climate and cultural damage."
"We call on you to listen to the science, to take on board our recommendations, and to work on our behalf to ensure that we—and you—have a future," the group said in a statement.
Strong words from Salim Kajani to Minister Bruton pic.twitter.com/uQI44pUzRA— Helen Donohue (@Donohuereports) November 15, 2019
Handing the recommendations to Richard Bruton, the minister for Communications, Climate Action, and the Environment, 15 year-old Salim Kajani of Dublin said, "Minister, look in the eyes of the children in front of you... Their future is in your hands."