Ireland

Activists hold protest in Dublin ahead of climate talks at UN

Chloe Coghlan, 12, with a model of planet Earth, joins civil society and climate action groups on Sandymount Strand in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)
Chloe Coghlan, 12, with a model of planet Earth, joins civil society and climate action groups on Sandymount Strand in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA) Chloe Coghlan, 12, with a model of planet Earth, joins civil society and climate action groups on Sandymount Strand in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

Environmental activists have urged Ireland’s political leaders to act fast on fossil fuels as they head for New York for talks on global climate action.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tanaiste Micheal Martin and environment minister Eamon Ryan will attend the UN General Assembly in the week ahead.

Global leaders will be discussing progress on the UN’s sustainable development goals amid concerns targets set for 2030 will be missed.

The UN will also host a climate ambition summit in New York during the week.

Ahead of the high-level meetings, Friends of the Earth organised a demonstration on Sandymount Strand in Dublin, with the tall chimneys of the Poolbeg power station providing the background.

Climate protest
Climate protest Civil society and climate action groups demonstrate on Sandymount Strand in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

It was staged as part of series of events internationally to mark Global Day Of Action to End Fossil Fuels.

The demonstration at Sandymount on Sunday afternoon was endorsed by a range of organisations, including Trocaire, Christian Aid, Not Here Not Anywhere, Young Friends of the Earth and Christian Blind Mission.

Friends of the Earth chief executive Oisin Coghlan called for a “fast, fair, and forever” end to fossil fuel dependence in Ireland.

“The case for getting off fossil fuels has never been clearer,” he said.

“The UN secretary general recently confirmed what we already knew – climate breakdown has begun and that we’re now entering the era of ‘global boiling’.

Climate protest
Climate protest The Poolbeg chimneys provided the backdrop for the protest (Niall Carson/PA)

“Ireland is very much part of the problem – the country remains hugely dependent on polluting expensive fossil fuels and, to make matters worse, the Government is still considering more polluting gas infrastructure.

“We have to draw a line in the sand. Fossil fuels must stay in the ground now, not in 20 years’ time.”

He added: “We also need Government to drive down demand for fossil fuel energy.

“That means setting a date for a ban on new gas boilers for industry and homes. We say 2028.

“It means getting a grip on the unregulated growth of data centre demand for electricity which is driving demand for gas.

“Data centres used 18% of Ireland’s electricity in 2022, that’s almost twice the amount used by all rural homes put together, and projected to use 30% by 2030. The European average is less than 3%.

“And in the run-up to the Cop28 UN climate summit it’s also important the Government supports global efforts to phase out fossil fuels, particularly through a new treaty to end the expansion of fossil fuels.”