Green Week 2016 was launched today outside the Exam Hall in Front Square by Senator David Norris. Many of the candidates running in the Leadership Race of Trinity College Dublin’s Students’ Union (TCDSU) were present, as brief environmental policy statements by the SU presidential candidates were expected.
Ronnie Russell, the chairperson of the Green Campus Committee, began the event by highlighting the importance of maintaining Trinity’s Green Flag, which is currently under review.
He then introduced Senator David Norris to speak. It was Mr Norris’ 14th time launching the week of events, and he spoke energetically and openly in both Irish and English about how “magnificent it is to be alive” in such a “wonderful world.”
Although his positive tone never faltered, he apologised for the “mess my generation, us old wrinklies have made of the planet.” He highlighted the importance of bringing climate change and environmental issues to the fore of the General Election, stating that none of the political debates in the General Election have discussed the topic. He also mentioned the upcoming Seanad Éireann elections, and the importance of voting in all elections to “put green issues on the agenda.”
He finished by announcing what Green Week will include free bike ‘health checks’ by Spokesman, a staff coffee morning promoting recycling on campus, and artist and traditional musician Sinéad Onóra Kennedy’s series of drawings, stories and music performances, featured in the Douglas Hyde Gallery.
At this point Provost Patrick Prendergast would have said a few words, explained Russell, but unfortunately he was absent. Russell spoke of the sustainability policies in the provost’s Strategic Plan, claiming that it was a “great advance” and that the committee was “really looking forward to seeing progress” as a result of the document.
Karen Dubsky, also of the Green Campus Committee, was proud to announce that Trinity would be the “first university in Ireland to have a ban on balloon releases,” which cause considerable damage to environments and fauna. She suggested alternatives such as kites, and planting colourful flowers.
At this point, it was pointed out that the knitting society had crafted a green flag for the event, which rested pride of place on the speaking podium.
The candidates for the SU presidency then took to the stage to discuss their environmental and sustainability policies. Stephen Carty spoke first, and he expressed a desire to “retrofit lighting” and use “low-flow shower heads” on campus. However, he then went on to speak about environmental policy, saying: “Students are the future when it comes to policy making.” Carty also spoke about fossil fuel divestment campaigns in Trinity and worldwide, and called fossil fuel companies “immoral,” citing oil spills, and mentioned that the mayor of Copenhagen had recently proposed that the Danish capital should divest from fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal.
Dan O’Brien then spoke on the topic from “more of an activist perspective,” and highlighted the need for people to interact internationally on such campaigns. He continued: “The only way to fundamentally enact change is to get everyone on the same page.”
Kieran McNulty discussed supporting divestment under the umbrella of his “empowerment” policy, and proposed an environmental sub-committee for College with the SU environmental officer, a representative of Fossil Free TCD, and a representative of the Green Campus Committee inclusive.
A €5,550 cheque for the Children’s Hospital in Crumlin was then produced, and it was announced that the donation was funded by “monies saved due to recycling on campus.” Russell appealed to the students gathered to put sustainability to “positive ends” through college societies.