Wednesday 11 December 2019

Brendan O'Connor: 'The children are our future'

 

Delegates from the RTE Youth Assembly on Climate are pictured awaiting to present Climate Action and Environment Minister Richard Bruton with their statement and recommendations to tackle the climate crisis. Photo: Andres Poveda
Delegates from the RTE Youth Assembly on Climate are pictured awaiting to present Climate Action and Environment Minister Richard Bruton with their statement and recommendations to tackle the climate crisis. Photo: Andres Poveda
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

As we look back on the events of the week, one thing is clear. We need to put the children in charge. An extraordinary thing happened last Friday that you may have missed. RTE put a bunch of children into the Dail. Or 'young people' or whatever it is that children like to identify as these days. The first extraordinary thing about it was that everyone turned up, which was a first for that chamber. No one was at a funeral in Schneem. Every seat was occupied. It was an unusual, and indeed a heartening, sight.

But that wasn't the really extraordinary thing. The really extraordinary thing was that, in one day, after some debate, these children appeared to have agreed 10 things we should do about climate change. Can you imagine how long it would have taken the actual adult Dail to do that? Indeed, we don't need to imagine. We know how long it is taking the adult Dail to come up with plans on climate change, and too long is the simple answer. We are still laggards in this area, still delinquent, still paying fines for not playing our part in reducing emissions.

The other extraordinary thing is that these 10 proposals were generally very sensible: Things like labelling food based on environmental cost, air-miles and packaging. Or putting glass doors on shop fridges. Refrigeration, as all children know, is a major contributor to global warming.

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Now, of course, you will argue a load of adult stuff here. Like that it's all very well having ideas but they'd be tied up in the courts for years, and we will, of course, need a 10-year tendering process, after which it will all end up costing 10 times what it was supposed to cost, and then it won't happen anyway. And besides, these little swots should be at school or out playing like we used to when we were kids. Which is, of course, another reason why we should put the children in charge. Because you suspect they might bypass a lot of this bulls**t, and just get things done.

The mind boggled as we thought about how much more effective these children might be at things like, for example, getting a children's hospital built. On that one, they would also have a bit of skin in the game, so to speak, so they might feel a greater sense of urgency. These kids also probably know more about broadband than most people in the adult Dail, so they might make a better fist of getting that done too.

And what were the adult politicians up to while this was all happening last week? Arguing over some silly tweets a woman sent "before she was involved in electoral politics", and finally firing another woman they've been tormenting about firing for months now. And time will tell, but it looks like they may have cocked that one up too.

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