Trinity students strike as pressure rises on climate crisis

Thousands participated in strikes and protests on climate change around the world this afternoon

Trinity students joined tens of thousands of schoolchildren and college students striking around the world this afternoon in a bid to urge governments to take drastic action against the climate crisis.

Students gathered in Front Square this morning, with Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) encouraging them to walk out of classes at 10:45. Protesters assembled on Custom House Quay for the organised rally before marching to the government buildings on Merrion Square.

Speaking to Trinity News, TCDSU President, Laura Beston said it is essential that Trinity is involved in action due to its high number of international students. “There are many countries across the planet who are already facing climate disasters on a colossal scale, with people losing family and friends,” she explained. Beston also pointed to the issues facing rural students from coastal communities under threat from climate change and rising sea levels.

TCDSU plan to continue efforts to change environmental procurement policy at a government level and to make Trinity a zero-waste campus.

The cohort of Trinity protesters was led by Trinity’s Extinction Rebellion group (Trinity XR). Speaking to Trinity News, Trinity XR explained that as a group of predominantly young activists, they plan to continue to organise alongside workers to “make real strike action on this issue a reality”. The group hopes that the joining of students, trade unions and workers today is the “first step towards building an actual general strike for climate action and a just transition”. 

The contingent from Trinity was small in size, but after joining the rest of the people protesting, the crowd amounted to thousands of passionate protestors. People of all ages gathered together singing their rendition of the remix of Dirty Dancing’s finest – Hey! Baby! “Hey! Baby! Uhh Ahh, I wanna know if you’ll save my world.”

After reaching Merrion Square speakers from different backgrounds got on stage to call on the government to make actual changes. They warned that those who did not would regret it when the young members of the crowd were old enough to vote.

Members of “No Planet B” each called out their ages, the oldest being ten. They asked the crowd if, at their age, they knew what “carbon emissions”, “greenhouse gases” and “hypocrisy” were. Referencing Blackrock College, which urged parents not to let their children participate in the strike, they said: “There’s a school in Dublin that costs a lot of money to go to, but it can’t be a very good school because they think the way to tackle this emergency is to turn off the lights for an hour.” She asked the crowd, “Is it better to be sitting in a classroom learning about history, or to be here with us today making history?”

The speakers called on everyone with phones to pull them out and set their alarms to 1:49, signalling that there are only eleven years left before there may be nothing which can be done to reverse the effects people have had on the planet. 

At the end of the strike, organisers informed the crowd that the entire event was run off of solar power.

Speaking to Trinity News, Trinity XR outlined that more action on climate change is still to come, pointing to another significant global mobilisation, “Extinction Rebellion International Rebellion Week 2”. They believe for seven to ten days this will rock cities globally, saying that “Trinity XR hope to join Rebellion Week actions in Dublin in even bigger numbers than we will muster today”.

Today marks the third climate strike held in Ireland this year, with thousands of students taking to the streets to voice their concern. The strike in Dublin was one of the simultaneous events that occurred across Ireland today, with strikes taking place in Cork, Galway, Limerick, Kerry, Ennis, Drogheda and Navan.

The nationwide strikes follow a global call by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg who is leading the youth climate change movement. Thunberg estimated that there would be 5,225 events in 156 countries held even in Antarctica to support the Global Climate Strike between September 20 and 27.

This is motivated action in advance of the meeting of global heads of government in New York on September 23 for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, which Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is expected to attend.

Shauna Bannon Ward

Shauna Barron Ward is a staff writer at Trinity News. She is a Junior Sophister Law student.