Mobilise Peace TCD calling on college for climate referendum

Speaking to Trinity News, System Change Ireland co-founders Ronan Browne and Zac Lumley discuss their plans for the upcoming academic term

Environmental campaign Mobilise Peace TCD are set to call on College to facilitate an “emergency assembly and university referendum” on the climate crisis and climate action.

System Change Ireland, the group behind the campaign, want to see Trinity accommodate an assembly to teach staff and students about climate and ecological crises.

Speaking to Trinity News, Zac Lumely, co-founder of the group, said that the proposed assembly would “include education on the economic mechanisms that have brought us to this precipice, and why they essentially cannot and must not be left unbridled”.

Ronan Browne, co-founder of System Change Ireland, said that the assembly would take place online. 

“Before the semester would have been ideal, but given timing it’s probably going to have to happen early in the semester,” Browne said.

“Physics won’t allow us to wait,” Browne said, explaining the campaign’s urgency.

The teachings included in this “emergency assembly” would include a teaching on the “Mobilize Peace” campaign, alongside a teaching of the “history, rational and essential techniques of effective non-violent direct action”. 

Browne continued: “We have nothing to hide. We aren’t going to give when it comes to breaking the cycle.”

“We’re confident enough in what we have to say that [College] can summon whatever or whomever they want to speak, and we’ll stand firm.”

“This is so essential because we’ve known about this crisis for forty years,” Lumley interjected. “What we’re calling for, is what we truly believe to be the logical conclusion.”

Explaining this, Lumley stated that based on all the evidence there is about the climate crisis and climate change and “how catastrophic it has already been”, System Change Ireland believes that this academic assembly is necessary for College to pursue.

“Given all of the science and given all of the information out there, we believe that this is the logical conclusion; we need nonviolent direct action,” Lumley concluded.

When asked how they plan to hold this academic assembly, Browne stated that the group “cannot divulge all of their magic” at this time. However, the group did confirm that they are in talks with Trinity College Dublin’s Students’ Union (TCDSU) about future action. 

“We’ve known about this crisis for forty years, and for forty years our yearly emissions have continued to grow,” Lumley explained. “We’ve done the emailing; we’ve done the marches; we’ve done environmental NGOs; we’ve done climate strikes; we’ve lobbied our TDs; non-violent civil disobedience comes as a last resort when all conventional measures have failed.”

Browne said universities have been “knowingly or unknowingly fooling their students into preparing for a future that doesn’t even exist”.

He said that it is now a possibility that “we are in a climate tipping point cascade”, meaning it may “just be too late”.

“Students need to hear that,” he said.

In August, a student and former Trinity teacher were arrested following a protest in which the group graffitied the outside of Trinity’s Sports Centre. 

The group spray painted the centre’s exterior wall with “Mobilise Peace TCD”, “Break the Vicious Cycle” and “Trinity Knows”. 

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.