Wednesday 16 October 2019

'Ireland's Gretas': Activists take mission to save the planet to youth summit in America

Passionate: Sarah Collins is eager to get her message of activism across
Passionate: Sarah Collins is eager to get her message of activism across

Caroline O'Doherty

Everyone knows Greta - now it's time to meet Sarah, Jack and Alicia-Joy.

Ireland's own teenage climate activists are travelling to New York for the first ever United Nations Youth Climate Summit.

Three Irish delegates, 17-year-old Jack O'Neill, from Portarlington, Co Laois, Alicia-Joy O'Sullivan (17), from Skibbereen, Co Cork, and 19-year-old Sarah Collins, from Midleton, Co Cork, are among 100 young people chosen from 7,000 applicants around the world to bring their experiences of climate activism to the landmark event on Saturday.

Swedish activist Greta Thunberg will be there too, having sailed to the US by racing boat, and she will undoubtedly be the star attraction - but the Irish trio are determined to make their voices heard too.

"We'll be meeting young people who are directly affected by climate change and we'll be able to hear their stories and bring them back to Ireland," explained Sarah, a first-year political science student at UCC. "Hopefully, we'll also get our message across to world leaders so that they understand how Irish people feel about the climate crisis, how passionate we are and how we want change now."

The youth summit takes place two days before heads of governments and business leaders meet at UN headquarters following an appeal by the UN secretary general to come together to ramp up their commitment to climate action.

Jack O'Neill, a Leaving Cert student, has vowed to grab any opportunity of meeting with the adult delegates.

"If I bump into any of them, or if they come to meet us, I would love to say to them just because we're young, doesn't mean we can't do our bit; to tell them, we can do more than you think we can, you can do more than you think you can," he said.

Irish Independent

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