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  • Writer's pictureJosey Goggin

Give the Reins to the Youth

Updated: Jan 11, 2020

It is not often that the government is handed over to the people for a day.

It is rarer still that it is handed over to the children. But on November 15, 2019 the lower house of the Irish government was handed over to the Youth Assembly on Climate.

The children wasted no time.

Knowing climate change demands we all get onboard with the science, face the reality of the state of our environment, and act, they got down to work[1].

These kids, like many of their peers globally, know they face an uphill battle against government, adults, corporate controls. Complacency, or fear of change, or the potential loss of profits or comforts adults don’t want to live without, have paralyzed older generations' ability and desire to move forward with any of the substantive measures upon which a safe, healthy future for the planet depends.

It keeps falling to our youth to speak up and amplify the realities we face. And on November 15, 2019, in Ireland so they did. Over the course of the day the Youth Assembly drafted ten point declaration intended to advise and influence their elected officials.[2]

Common arguments against moving toward a sustainable world are: it will costs too much and will take too much time. Yet how can we not afford to make those changes? How can we look into the faces of the world's youth and just shrug our shoulders? We have a decade within which to act, to hold the line on climate change, to avoid a tipping point from which we can not return.

We need to act.

Evidence that the wealthiest among us are building shelters in case of environmental collapse is growing. They sees the reality of climate change just as clearly as we do and hope to save themselves in the face of it. But stockpiling wealth or resources does not ensure longevity or survival on a planet that is devastated. Believing that in a global system of climate change there will be an untouched corner, is, well, magical thinking. Only working within the scientific realities of sustainable, ongoing resource use and limits, can do make the world habitable for all of us.

The Youth Assembly on Climate addressed both of these objections in the public declaration they issued. They called on adults and elected officials to listen and recommended some first steps (See below the full declaration below). They suggest actions of varying scale, from incentivizing installing glass doors on open refrigerators in grocery stores, and banning the importation fracked gas to implementing mandatory sustainability education in schools, and banning acts of ecocide. While the larger suggestions demand time to work out details and significant financial impacts the smaller scale ideas offer quick, easy fixes that if implemented would go a long way toward showing the youth that someone is listening to their concerns.

It is a rare occasion that we hand the mic to the youth, but in Ireland when they were given the opportunity, the children rose to occasion and gave us a clear statement and starting point to move forward.

“We, the youth of Ireland, call on our elected representatives and on adults to listen. We put forward our Recommendations for action to stop climate breakdown. We are NOT experts. In our Recommendations we offer ideas but we do NOT have all the answers.

“It is a starting point for adults and particularly for those elected to protect and progress our society.

We call on you to listen to the science, to take on board our Recommendations and to work on our behalf to ensure that we – and you – have a future.

Iarraimidne, óige na hÉireann, ar ár n-ionadaithe tofa agus ar dhaoine fásta éisteacht linn. Cuirimid chun cinn ár Moltaí chun gníomhú chun stad a chur le cliseadh aeráide. NÍ saineolaithe sinn. Inár moltaí, cuirimid smaointe ar fáil ach is fiú dúinn a rá NACH againn atá na freagraí ar fad.

“Is ceann tosaigh é seo do dhaoine fásta agus go háirithe dóibh sin a toghadh chun ár sochaí a chosaint agus a chur chun cinn. Iarraimid oraibh éisteacht le fianaise na heolaíochta, glacadh lenár Moltaí agus oibriú thar ár gceann chun a chinntiú go mbeidh todhchaí romhainn – agus romhaibhse freisin.”


  1. From your corner store to your supermarket, we call on the house to incentivize and obligate the installation of glass doors on open refrigerators.

  2. For Ireland to ban the importation of fracked gas and invest solely in renewables.

  3. Implementing measures that will allow that Irish goods be both eco-sustainable and affordable in today’s Irish market.

  4. Implement a tiered Tax on Emissions from large companies including those under capital ETS. This tax must be increased every year while threshold decreases, shifting the burden from individuals to corporations.

  5. Investment in industrial hemp facilities to provide a viable, sustainable and alternative land use for farmers as well as employment in rural Ireland.

  6. A labeling and pricing system showing the climate impact of food products based on criteria such as impact of packaging and distance traveled.

  7. Ireland to outlaw acts of ecocide – being the widespread and systematic loss of ecosystems, including climate and cultural damage.

  8. Protect existing forests and make compulsory that at least 10 per cent of all land owned for agricultural uses is dedicated to forestry.

  9. A targeted nationwide Information campaign to educate the population about the climate crisis regarding the causes, the effects and the solutions.

  10. Mandatory “Sustainability” education from primary level to the workplace including a new compulsory Junior Cycle & optional Leaving Certificate subject.”

Additional resources:

[1] No. 49 Camouflaged meetings of protest

[2] No. 33 Fraternization

[3] No. 3 Declarations by organizations and institutions and No. 5 Declarations of indictment and intention.


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