Climate activist group asks College to encourage civil disobedience for climate action

The group is planning a camp-in protest at Trinity next weekend

Climate activist group System Change Ireland has written to College to ask it to “support and encourage” students to participate in civil disobedience to protest against government inaction on climate change. 

In a letter email sent to Provost Patrick Prendergast, the organisation explained that “in times of emergency, we must be swift”. 

The letter, which was signed by co-founder Ronan Browne, a Masters student in Trinity, said that the global climate is “in a state of severe crisis”, and “our economic system is largely to blame”. 

The letter stated: “There are peaceful, positive, practical, and powerful alternatives which can be decided by citizens assembly and brought about by referendum on the topic of system change. Governments worldwide are either unwilling or dilatory to implement the change needed.”

System Change Ireland was established at the beginning of the month, calling for systemic change to address the climate crisis. 

Browne explained: “In 2018 there were over 220,000 students in higher education in Ireland. Add the alumni populations on top of this and we would have numbers far exceeding 1,000,000 students past and present.”

More than enough to make a peaceful and powerful stand,” he continued. “Humane, peaceful democratic change could be achieved within a short timeframe if the universities of

the world could only muster up the courage to act.”

The letter then called on the provost and College to support student and alumni bodies for national scale peaceful civil disobedience, that is due to begin from October or November. 

System Change Ireland has requested that College respond to their letter by August 10. 

The group is planning to hold a camp-in protest at Trinity from August 14 to August 16.

The camp-in, “Mobilise Peace TCD”, is seeking to campaign for “socio-economic and climate justice”. 

Speaking to Trinity News, Zac Lumley, member of the group, stated: “I’ve been working with System Change Ireland to encourage Trinity to do its climate and social duty by encouraging its students into mass nonviolent civil disobedience in order to bring about the changes necessary to actually mitigate the climate and ecological crisis.”

“We’re arguing that Trinity is well aware of climate science, and that our specific form of economic system is largely responsible,” Lumley continued. 

Lumley added: “We believe that Trinity has a duty to its citizens to prevent harm by peacefully breaking from its deadly obedience to a system that is actively and grievously devastating the living world.”

A report conducted by the United Nations (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that limiting global warming to 1.5C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society, and would provide “clear benefits” to people and natural ecosystems.

The report found that limiting global warming to 1.5C compared to 2C could go hand in hand with ensuring a “more sustainable and equitable society”. While previous estimates focused on estimating the damage if average temperatures were to rise by 2C, this report shows that many of the adverse impacts of climate change will come at the 1.5C mark.

In July, the Supreme Court ruled against the government’s existing National Mitigation Plan for climate change action, finding that the plan lacked the specificity required to be transparent enough to achieve its aims.

Shannon Connolly

Shannon Connolly is the Editor-in-Chief of the 69th volume Trinity News, and a Senior Sophister student of English Literature and Philosophy. She previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.