On Wednesday the 13th November, Katie Alsford and I were given the opportunity to go to the first Intergenerational Climate Justice Conference held in Cork City Hall. The intention of this conference was to deepen the understanding of climate justice and action. It was also a chance for young people to share their opinions and ideas with the older generations.
The running slogan of the conference was “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children” and I think the speakers really made that point in their speeches, since the point of the event was to bring together young and old people alike in the face of the current climate crisis we’re facing.
The conference started at about 9, and before we headed into the main hall we were given name badges and (lanyards) badge holders made out of material as an eco friendly replacement for plastic badge holders! We were assigned seats and the speeches started.
The co-chairs of the conference were Saoi O’Connor, a climate activist from Skibbereen, and Denise Cahill, the Healthy Cities Coordinator in Cork City. They talked about the amazing work that went into organizing this event and introduced the guest speakers. There were 16 speakers, not including Saoi and Denise, including Tracey Skellington, a lecturer in Sociology at UCC, Phyllis Power, Rachel Power and Caroline Jacob-Power, three generations of climate activists in one family, Peadar Kirby, Professor Emeritus of International Politics and Public Policy in University of Limerick, and our own President Michael D. Higgins.
Before the President arrived, Elaine Nevin and Susie Spratt from ECO-UNESCO held a creative workshop based on building our own ideal society. This workshop got us to interact with the other people at our table. Firstly we talked about our fears and hopes concerning climate action, this led us into conversations about government, eco-anxiety and young people involved in climate justice. The second activity revolved around building our perfect island, there were no rules or limitations to this and again it led to many interesting conversations. Finally we got to write down and talk about our goals in terms of climate action in the future, which included doing things like raising awareness in your local area or not travelling by plane. In the end, this activity definitely helped us get to know people and talk about more solutions and ways to take action.
President Higgins arrived at City Hall at about 2:10, and was welcomed by Caoimhe Cotter, a Fridays For Future striker. President Higgins then gave a speech about the climate crisis and the future of Ireland, “Like the poor of the world, all you have are your numbers. You will have to be ahead of the posse in all of the information but also in the clever uses of information in a media that will so frequently ignore you,”After his speech, he was presented with gift of bog oak and sapling by Eoghan Mac Risteard, a Colaiste an Phiarsaigh student, which is going to be planted in Cork City. After President Higgins, the Lord Mayor also gave a short speech.
In the end, we are very grateful to have had this amazing opportunity and we were glad we got to represent the school at such an important event. We would also like to thank Ms Kiely for accompanying us to the conference!
Article by Weronicka Wierzbicka TY Student