Young people stage first of climate protests

YOUNG people fighting for climate action held the first of a series of protests in Letterkenny on Friday.
Fridays for Future Donegal was set up by student Meábh McConalogue (16). Meábh was a member of Friday Futures Ireland group and set up Fridays for Future Donegal having seen a gap locally. She is joined by other group members Daithí McBrearty (16), Tara Toye (18) and Kaitlin Maniti (18).
Inspired by environmental activist Greta Thunberg, the group say they want to ensure climate conversations continue locally.
Kaitlin said she got involved because she wants to raise awareness among her own peer group.
“We are not guaranteed a secure and sustainable future and neither are our children. I wanted to know why no-one was talking about this or doing anything about it. I began with that conversation, and with that conversation more passion and empowerment came that we can actually do something. We can all do something about it, and that is so empowering among young people our age.”
The group said following a huge momentum in 2019 on climate action, a climate strike was attended by over 200 students in Letterkenny, formed by another small group. But since the Covid-19 pandemic, focus has waned.
“Coming from that action in 2019 and out of the pandemic, it has been a slow start but it is slowly getting there. The support we have is mainly from young people,” said Kaitlin.
Kaitlin said she believes more attention needs to be given to rural areas like Donegal.
“Looking at the urban climate action plan and looking at the Budget, there is a lot of focus on urban areas, whereas Donegal is a rural area. There is no adaptation or mitigation. I was part of UNCRC for UNICEF and we wrote a consultation for a year about young people on climate change and how it influences them. We found a huge gap on resources support for climate action. I have a friend who owns a farm and he says he has not been given any support on how they can change their farm which has a lot of carbon emissions. They have no support to transition to a more eco friendly or cleaner alternative. They are left in a difficult situation because the farm is how they make a living as well.”
The students said the war in Ukraine adds more fears in terms of climate effects. They said it’s timely for the government to look at an alternative approach.
Meábh said: “There’s an oil crisis and this is a great chance for our government to switch to renewable energy. I think that is something that should be really considered because we should not be so reliant on fossil fuels and now we’re stuck because of this war.”
Kaitlin pointed out that climate justice does not only relate to the environment.
“It is intersectional. You can’t have climate justice without having equality or without a solution to the housing crisis along with sustainable development goals.”
Daithí said he believes FFF Donegal is making an impact.
“ I think doing something like this, although small, is making some kind of impact an difference.”
Details of next climate protest can be found at FFF Donegal on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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