From School Strikes to Wicklow's Climate and Biodiversity Emergency, local communities are driving change.
Posted by Claudia Tormey on June 14, 2019 at 06:47 PM
Wicklow’s declaration of a Climate and Biodiversity Emergency was instrumental in pushing the government to make the declaration on a national scale. Keith Scanlon, is one of ten parents and grandparents in Greystones and Delgany, Co. Wicklow, that came together to campaign for Wicklow’s declaration.
For this community, it all began as part of the Global School Strike for Climate on March 15th, in which millions of school students took to the streets all across the world alongside their parents and teachers. An estimated 11,000 people marched and demonstrated in Dublin, while 100’s came together in their local communities across the country.
In Wicklow, over 500 people joined the strike in Greystones, 100 in Bray, 200 on-site in local schools and several 100 Wicklow students made it to the Dublin event.
Keith and other parents in his local area received the call to action and decided to organise their own strike for people who couldn’t make it to the bigger gathering in Dublin city.
This was not the first taste of activism for many of the organising members of this group, many were already involved with various initiatives and organisations. The more recent ‘Climate Strike’ and ‘Extinction Rebellion’ movements have brought environmentalists and social activists together, across groups and areas of interest, realising one shared goal. This tipping point has been a long time coming, and it’s all down to the tireless work from communities.
As Keith explains himself, "the official Irish Emergency had already been declared by President Michael D Higgins at the National Biodiversity Conference in February this year. Most stakeholder groups, from scientists, to litter-picking volunteers, school classes, small farmers and big business, were there giving Michael D’s declaration a standing ovation, feeling recognised after years of effort.
“The baseline had shifted, but it would still take one more push, by the children and elders, to get the politicians and big industry to join the community".
Following that first collective action on March 15th, the group decided to formalise a written motion recognising the ‘Climate and Biodiversity Emergency’ and lobbied Wicklow’s 32 County Councillors, who were competing for the local elections at the time, asking them to stand with their community.
On April 29th, the day of the Wicklow County Council vote on the Climate and Biodiversity Emergency, the group held another mass rally inside and outside the council chamber. The motion was passed unanimously and local politicians agreed to help spread the word to other councils to ensure they followed suit.
Lobbing TDs and Political Party leaders also kicked off from these events, which led to the Dáil making the declaration just days later.
Keith came along to our event in Wicklow recently to announce the next steps for the campaign (see below) and to join the discussion on Pádraic Fogarty’s book ‘Whittled Away, Ireland’s Vanishing Nature’. It’s truly inspiring to see people like Keith taking a stand for what he cares about while also encouraging others to drive climate action and protect biodiversity on a grassroots level.
See below some documents shared by the Wicklow Climate And Biodiversity campaign group: