“Time is ticking and we have to deal with the consequences no matter what.”
As the devastating realities of climate change unfold in front of us, the younger members of Ireland’s society continue to push for justice and action.
Her recently caught up with Max Fulham and Zara Stafford, who are members of the Irish branch of Fridays for Future, a global youth-led movement that sees young people demand radical climate action in order to secure a safe and liveable future.
Zara, who is currently in fifth year in secondary school, has been concerned about climate change since she was a child. She decided to practically channel those concerns through activism last summer.
Joining Fridays for Future, she notes, was one of the best decisions she’s ever made.
“You feel different when you’re putting things into action, rather than just wishing and hoping,” Zara explains. “Sometimes the results can be disappointing if no action is made, but when you’re putting forward what you feel is the most you can do, it feels a lot better than doing nothing.”
Max, who will sit his Leaving Cert next summer, also notes how there is power in numbers, particularly where activism is concerned.
His work sees him liaise with political bodies and organisations, a daunting feat, no doubt, but one that is made easier by the support of his fellow activists.
“Going into meetings with people who are a lot older and know a lot more can be sometimes scary, but knowing that I’m not going in there alone, and knowing that there are 7 million people who also want climate action makes it easier,” he says.
“Every time I walk into a meeting, I’m walking alongside some of my best friends, and people I trust no matter what.”
“We saw the urgency with how we reacted to the pandemic, we need to bring that same level of urgency to climate change.”
Zara and Max are among the many young people in Ireland calling for climate action, and it is unsurprising that the voices from this demographic are among the loudest. As the globe heats up and oceans rise, it is this generation that will have to cope with climate change’s consequences.
Max notes that Fridays for Future has three main goals – a fossil-free future, a liveable city and a just society. He’s particularly interested in the liveable city aim, which calls for sustainable transport and more green spaces.
Zara, meanwhile, is interested in the social inequality elements of climate change. In particular, joining Fridays for Future opened her mind to the the notion of MAPA, which stands for Most Affected People and Areas. MAPA explores climate change from an intersectional perspective.
“The people in the world who are most affected by climate change are the people that have contributed to it the least,” Zara says.
With that in mind, Zara has a succinct message to those in government.
“Time is ticking and we have to deal with the consequences no matter what,” she says. “The decisions we make now will be harder to make 10 years from now. It’s no longer an issue for the future, it’s an issue for now.”
Max urges those in leadership positions to “think global, but act local”.
He explains: “We need a globally coordinated response with measures we can implement on a local level. We saw the urgency with how we reacted to the pandemic, so we need to bring that same level of urgency to climate change.”
For more information on Fridays for Future in Ireland, head to their website right here.