Why Ireland really needs to declare a climate emergency 4 months ago

Why Ireland really needs to declare a climate emergency

The phrase 'climate emergency' currently doesn't have a strict definition.

It's generally said to allude to the hard and vastly undeniable fact that climate change is happening at an alarming rate primarily due to the actions of humanity.

That's according to the UN anyway, who have said that we, as a planet, may only have about 11 years left to clean up our act to avoid a potential climate catastrophe and prevent "irreversible damage" to the earth.

During the meeting of world leaders earlier this year, climate change and the prevalent inability to act on it, was described as "intergenerational justice" and a "global emergency." Hurricanes and other weather events were referenced as points where "mother nature fought back after being treated so unkindly for so long."

Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that instead of keeping the global temperature below 1.5 degrees, we had fallen completely off track and were instead hurtling rapidly towards three degrees Celsius.

The biggest takeaway from the panel was that there needs to be considerable changes when it comes to global energy use, cities, industries, and land use.

Following that were the habits of the individual, with red meat consumption, dairy products, and carbon emissions topping the list of should-be lifestyle changes.

And they absolutely should be too. The harmful effects that constant and unsustainable farming has on the environment has been well documented (as have the effects of food wastage, textile production, and the misuse of land), but how can we expect people to become aware of these issues when the government stays silent?

A recent poll conducted on our own Instagram page showed that almost half (49 percent) of Her readers don't believe that eating meat has a big effect on the environment.

Meat consumption may not be the predominant cause for planet concern, but raising animals for food and dairy products requires an incredible amount of land, resources, and energy - something that most of us don't really consider when we're chowing down on a double cheese burger at 3am.

And fair enough too. If you haven't actively taken the time to do your own research, reading, or watching of Cowspiracy on Netflix, the average person could almost be forgiven for assuming that the two had absolutely no correlation.

Or at least, you could have been before.

There has already been a massive shift in recent months when it comes to climate change and the voices that are finally being heard.

Over the weekend, Scotland became the first country to declare a climate emergency. This came off the back of first minister Nicola Sturgeon meeting with some students striking from school over climate change.

Sturgeon said that the students told her science has already proven that the world is in big trouble. "And they are right," she said.

A few days after that the UK parliament passed the motion to declare a national climate emergency themselves, following multiple large scale protests from students and campaigners who were sick of being ignored.

Irish students did the same last month when thousands of them took to the streets of Dublin to protest what they've called the government's inaction on the issue.

The demonstration was part of a global movement encouraged by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish student who has very much been the figurehead of climate activism for young people since the end of last year.

Thunberg's actions represent a whole generation of young people who are sick of inaction. She has managed to put a spotlight on what so many campaigners have been saying for years - this is a problem, and we need to fix it.

The UK's declaration of a climate emergency cannot force the government to act, but it is a step forward.

A recognition that we're in trouble, that we need to do something, and that the next generation deserve far better than inaction.

So, declare a climate emergency, Ireland. Wicklow have already done it, after all.


During May, Her will be doing some more #ConsciousBits.

Over the month, we'll be learning how to re-use more than we buy, examining the sheer amount of waste the planet produces, and considering the many, many benefits of sustainable fashion choices. 

We'll also be chatting to some people who have made sustainability a priority, while setting ourselves a few environmentally conscious challenges along the way. 

Change is daunting and we're not perfect, but we can always try to do our bit. Our conscious bit. 

You can follow the rest of the #ConsciousBits series here or follow our Instagram account for more related content. 

Want to get in touch? Email us at jade@her.ie.