Friday 20 September 2019

Mary Robinson back school strikers 'to draw attention to the perils of climate change'

Mary Robinson Picture: Steve Humphreys
Mary Robinson Picture: Steve Humphreys

Caroline O’Doherty

Former president Mary Robinson has thrown her weight behind school strikers and said they were right to demand that adults take responsibility for the climate crisis.

Mrs Robinson said she was thankful that so many young people had taken part in the #FridaysForFuture strikes and they deserved to have the support of all adults, governments and business leaders.

“The young people of the world have asked us to stand with them this September and to draw attention to the perils of climate change for those who are young and have their full lives to lead,” she said.

“You are the ones who are not responsible but you are going to be loaded with the world which is increasingly hard to live in if we don’t make changes so you are rightly asking us to take our responsibility.”

The former president and current head of her own Climate Justice Foundation was speaking as chairperson of The Elders, a group of ex-world leaders and senior human rights figures originally gathered together by Nelson Mandela and who collectively campaign on conflict, justice and climate issues.

“On behalf of The Elders, I want to express our strong solidarity with young people,” she said. “I want to thank you young people who have come out on your #FridaysForFuture and young people who have been determined to bring home the accountability for climate change.

“We hope that corporations and governments in particular will take their responsibilities and make the radical commitments necessary for transformative change in this climate emergency that faces us and that we must take seriously.”

Mrs Robinson was speaking ahead of global climate action school strikes next Friday, more than a dozen of which are planned around Ireland, and the UN youth climate in summit which takes place in New York on Saturday. Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg will address the summit which will also be attended by several teenage Irish delegates.

Two days later, world leaders and corporations will gather in the city to discuss ways to increase efforts at meeting global climate reduction targets which were agreed in Paris in 2015 but are already off course.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tanaiste Simon Coveney and climate action minister Richard Bruton will lead an Irish delegation at the summit.

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