Trinity students to protest for climate emergency measures bill

EnviroSoc and Fossil Free TCD will be showing their support for the bill outside the Dail tomorrow

Photo from Not Here, Not Anywhere

 Trinity students will be among those gathered outside Leinster House tomorrow afternoon to urge the government to pass the climate emergency measures bill.

The bill, which would prevent more offshore exploratory and extractive drilling for gas and oil off the Irish coast, will be introduced and debated in the Dáil on Wednesday. Alongside other environmental groups, Trinity’s Environmental Society (EnviroSoc) will be present outside Leinster House to make their support for the bill known.

Other groups expected to be in attendance are environmental groups Not Here Not Anywhere, Stop Climate Chaos and Fossil Free TCD. Trinity students associated with these groups will gather outside House 6 before the march, joined by Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) representatives, who are supporting the bill and protest. Members of People Before Profit are also expected to be present outside Leinster House tomorrow.

A TCDSU Facebook post highlighting the protest outlines its importance for the environment. It states that the passing of the bill is “the logical next step for Ireland’s transition towards clean, renewable energy…It will also protect Irish fishing industry against hugely damaging and rarely profitable offshore drilling practices, and will allow us to stand in solidarity with the world’s poorest people who are already feeling the devastating effects of climate change.”

TCDSU Environmental Officer Simon Benson told Trinity News that “even just the exploratory explosive blasts used can have huge negative impacts on marine ecosystems, particularly cetaceans like dolphins and whales, never mind a potential oil spill on our beautiful, tourist-loved west coast.”

If the climate emergency measures bill is passed, the government would be prevented from issuing new licenses for the exploration and extradition of fossil fuels in Ireland. In addition, companies would be banned from looking for new sources of fossil fuels while global atmospheric Co2 levels are above 350 parts per million.

“It’s ridiculous that Ireland even considers fossil fuel extraction, in particular since the ban on onshore fracking by Minister Naughten a few months ago,” Benson argued. “This is a dying industry in more ways than one and it will take us with it if we continue to support it.” The Seanad passed legislation banning fracking last June.

Speaking to Trinity News, Jessie Dolliver, the chair of EnviroSoc, stated: “We recognize the need to move away from fossil fuel infrastructure and begin to seriously consider Ireland’s energy security in the future. We can’t depend on oil and gas that might or might not be there – we need to invest in renewables.” Tomorrow’s protestors will be brandishing placards, banners and “giants puppets” of seagulls, water droplets and sea creatures to draw attention to the protest.

Although TCDSU are not specifically mandated to campaign against oil and gas drilling, the SU have adopted various positions related to climate change. TCDSU adopted a stance against fracking in Ireland and supported Fossil Free TCD’s successful campaign to urge College to divest from fossil fuels.

The passing of the climate emergency measures bill would make Ireland the third country to ban exploration for new sources of fossil fuels. “We need to stand up and hammer home to the politicians that might not see the urgency” of dealing with the climate’s dire situation, Benson stated.

Aisling Grace

Aisling Grace was the Editor-in-Chief of the 66th Volume of Trinity News. She was also formerly Online Editor and Deputy News Editor.