“[Elliot] spoke of the dangers currently facing us with climate change, and how Trinity’s divestment could ‘send a powerful message’. The group expect a decision to be made on this in early December.”
Yesterday evening saw TCDSU’s new Environmental Lobby Group launch their campaign in the company of Green Party senator, Grace O’Sullivan.
Environmental Officer Thomas Emmet opened the launch with an air of enthusiasm, expressing that “it’s nice to be on a college campus so open to lobby groups” and stressing that “the environment is one of the most important issues of our time”.
Also in attendance was President of the Students’ Union, Kieran McNulty, who gave a briefing on each of the campaign groups active on campus this year. He praised the activism evident amongst Trinity’s student body but noted a gap to be filled when it comes to lobbying, a gap whereby we need to be physically sitting down with our government and actually speaking to them as opposed to “shouting outside Leinster House”.
McNulty stated his approval of the SU supporting the Environmental Lobby Group, drawing attention to a mandate that was passed at the most recent SU Council on Tuesday for the union to adopt a stance against fracking in Ireland. He said the union should “embrace the people who stand up and try to make a change in society”
Members of the lobby group, chaired by Robyn Page-Cowman, introduced the campaigns they shall be running throughout the year on topics including food waste, microbeads, and the agricultural industry.
Speaking on behalf of campaign group Fossil Free TCD, Eoin Elliot outlined the work the group has already carried out in calling on Trinity to divest its €6.1m currently invested in the fossil fuel industry. He spoke of the dangers currently facing us with climate change, and how Trinity’s divestment could “send a powerful message”. The group expect a decision to be made on this in early December.
Speaking at a later stage, Senator O’Sullivan openly supported Trinity’s divestment campaign. She spoke of the impact Trinity could have in setting an example for others to cease their support of such exploitation, stressing that funds should instead be invested in renewable energies.
O’Sullivan spoke of her own history as an activist, beginning at the age of 16 when she became a vegetarian, and leading her down a path that found her arrested and imprisoned at points. Reflecting on one of the very first activist events she attended, a candle vigil outside of the US Embassy, she fondly compared it to a vigil held by Fossil Free TCD.
“I’m a perpetual activist,” O’Sullivan announced to the room, disclosing that it’s an opportunity to use intuition and to “think outside the box”. With catching enthusiasm, she urged students to educate themselves and build an awareness, stressing that getting involved in difficult processes is to be welcomed.
“Fight the case of environmentalism”, O’Sullivan encouraged, revealing that she looks back confident in the fact she did not waste too much time throughout her life by partaking in such efforts. “Over time, you can achieve so much”.
O’Sullivan also spoke about a bill that will be discussed in the Seanad in the coming weeks on banning the manufacturing and the sale of microbeads. In answering a question on the matter, O’Sullivan encouraged students to take a look at the bill, reinforcing that she would be happy to take students’ opinions on board.
Following recent political events, particularly the American Presidential election, O’Sullivan maintained that the biggest challenge facing the environmental is that of climate-change deniers such as President-Elect Donald Trump. Referencing the Environmental Lobby Group and also the Divestment campaign, she urged students to “keep pushing” for greater change, closing the launch with an air determination and hope.