Save our planet!

Sinead Kelleher

When 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg from Sweden began protesting at the lack of effective Government action on climate change, little did she know that her protest would spread across the world.

Last Friday, hundreds of Kerry students took to the streets to protest at the lack of climate-change action in the county, following in the footsteps of Greta's 'Fridays for Future' campaign to raise awareness of the need for Governments around the world to take action. 

Students in Kerry protested outside Kerry County Council in Tralee to demand the local authority to take action to save the county for their future. 

"We are taking our future into  our hands. It is time for us to do our bit. It is as simple as this: we can't study for a future if there is no future," said Barry Sugrue from Tralee.

The teenage demonstrators handed over a list of actions to Kerry County Council and to local councillors, actions they feel would be in a step in the right direction to save the county and their future. Students also took to the streets in Dingle and in Kenmare, and a protest was held by younger students at St Oliver's National School in Killarney. 

The demands, drawn up online by the teenagers, include providing more bins throughout the county and separating bins for different waste; as well as an education campaign on how to reduce and recycle waste.

They also called on the local authority to introduce more cycling lanes to reduce the county's carbon footprint; and to provide free parking for electric cars, along with reducing plastic usage across the county and encouraging businesses to do the same. They also called for a ban of plastic straws and bags countywide. 

A number of councillors attended the rally in Tralee, including the Green Party candidate for the Tralee Electoral area - Ann Marie Fuller - who believes that Tralee can lead the way and become a sustainable community.

Key to this, she said, is a community-owned energy system  "€450m is spent by the people of Kerry every year on energy; imagine if we owned that, if we owned the wind farms and the solar farms, and our homes were solar and insulated, and we had biomass energy source," she said.  Demonstrators at Kerry County Council building in Tralee said they were there to "fight for their future".

"I think I can speak on behalf of  everyone: we are sick of complacency on climate change and cowardly action coming from the Government. This is a global phenomenon, and we want change," said Sadbh Stack (17). 

Brid O'Brien (14)  said they want "to target the Government about not meeting their 2020 goals. 

"It is our future, not their future, and they need to help us promote it."  Aoife O'Mahony (18) said there has to be a change in policy: "There is no point going to school if there is no future for us."