On Thursday 15th of May, Young Friends of the Earth hosted a Dublin region European Parliament election husting, as part of our national Politics for People campaign.
We were delighted to welcome 5 of our Dublin candidates standing for the European elections on Friday 23rd of May: Brid Smith, People Before Profit Alliance; Eamon Ryan, Green Party; Paul Murphy, Socialist Party; Damon Matthew Wise, Fís Nua; Emer Costello, Labour Party.
The hustings began with tasty, home-made treats, and time for attendees to mingle with one another and the candidates. They shared their sentiments on some “ice-breaker” environmental questions. Nicola of Young Friends of the Earth kicked things off with a David Suzuki quote which set the premise for the evening.
“There are some things in the world we can’t change – gravity, entropy, the speed of light, and our biological nature that requires clean air, clean water, clean soil, clean energy and biodiversity for our health and well being. Protecting the biosphere should be our highest priority or else we sicken and die. Other things like capitalism, free enterprise, the economy, currency, the market, are not forces of nature, we invented them. They are not immutable and we can change them. It makes no sense to elevate economics above the biosphere.” David Sazuki.
The stars of the event were then called to the stage – a giant Peacock and a Bird of Prey modelled by their designers from a local Art College. They demonstrated the power play between politics, citizens and corporate lobbyists, embodying the Politics for People pledge which calls on MEPs to represent citizens and democracy over corporate interests.
Our eminent Chair Joe Curtin, climate change policy specialist of The Institute of International and European Affairs, kept the candidates on their toes for the evening, but not before luring them into a false sense of security. He called on each candidate to share their reflections on one of the “ice-breaker” questions – their favourite place in nature. We heard of the wild landscapes of Slovenia from Paul, Bríd’s dance with dragon flies by the River Barrow, Damon’s Arctic explorations, Emer’s love of the Phoenix park – the lungs of Dublin City, and Eamon’s awakening to the natural world whilst on a school trip.
Next we got down to the nitty gritty. The candidates addressed some of the key
environmental concerns which framed our campaign. These relate to emissions commitment, renewable energy feed-in tariff, EU-US free trade agreements (TTIP), biofuels, fracking regulations, GM foods and biodiversity. Further audience questions were directed to the panel. The candidates each pledged strong allegiance to the environmental cause. However, actions speak louder than words – if elected will they properly follow through on their commitments and work on making them a reality here at home?
The next generation of leaders must have the skills, resilience and foresight to radically change our current, environmentally destructive economic model. Does our current educational system adequately equip young people with these skills or does the focus on jobs and economic success overshadow social and environmental concerns? The importance of the environment and how it sustains us must be elevated as a top priority in European and local politics.
Check out our film of the campaign: Make the environment Europe’s highest priority!
DIT held their first Green Week last week and Young Friends of the Earth Ireland were participating in the festivities. The Week was designed as a series of roadshows that visited each of the main campus locations. YFoE contributed by doing some chalk and green graffiti demonstrations, as well as meeting with students to talk about the many ways they could get involved in grassroots environmental and climate justice action.
Participation is key, be the change!
Young people in Ireland and throughout Europe are using their voice and their power by actively engaging with politicians in the lead up to the European Parliament elections on the 23rd May. Collectively we are asking candidates running for election, to represent the voice of the people and make commitments to protect our interests at the EU level. Young FoE are excited to be involved in this Europe-wide Politics for People campaign run by ALTER-EU (the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation in the European Union). We are seizing this opportunity to place the Earth and the protection of her natural resources centre stage at the European Parliament.
Students across the globe are calling for their University boards to divest from the fossil fuel industry. As the effects of climate change become more apparent young people are organizing and mobilizing to meet the challenge head on. Following the examples set by campuses across Canada and the US, European students are now adapting divestment campaign models to launch campaigns on their own campuses, and with support from former President Mary Robinson the question at hand is – are Irish students ready to join the global divestment campaign?