environment Green Week 2021

Podcast: ‘This is way bigger than Covid’: The pandemic’s effect on climate activism

Katy Brennan chats to Ceara Carney about Extinction Rebellion, Covid’s impact on activism, and how you can get involved in the fight for climate justice
Ceara Carney protesting at the Department of Agriculture with Animal Rebellion – a subgroup of Extinction Rebellion. Photo courtesy of Animal Rebellion Ireland

Prior to the pandemic, Extinction Rebellion were one of the biggest groups at the forefront of climate activism, making headlines worldwide. But ongoing lockdowns saw them forced to take a step back and rethink their plans.

“We are very much on the way back with some new tactics and we can’t wait to get back to the streets in huge numbers again” 

Ceara Carney

Actress, podcast host, and activist Ceara Carney wants to make it clear that the group hasn’t gone anywhere.

“Our main tactic of mass mobilisation was taken away from us,” she explains. “But we’ve had some activists and rebels throughout the pandemic and lockdowns constantly meet to figure out our strategy going forward.

“We had our People’s Assembly meeting a few weeks ago where there were 116 people on a Zoom call and we came out with some visions of where to go next. We are very much on the way back with some new tactics and we can’t wait to get back to the streets in huge numbers again.”

Carney attending a protest with Extinction Rebellion and Irish Wildlife Trust to highlight overfishing in Irish waters. Photo courtesy of Ceara Carney

For the past year, activism hasn’t quite looked like it used to – large scale protests have been replaced with smaller actions and social media posts.

Last week, two Cork rebels broke Covid restrictions by travelling to Dublin to live stream a graffiti attack on the Department of Foreign Affairs.

After dousing the building with red paint, the two spray painted phrases such as “no more empty promises” along the exterior.

The activists explained that the purpose was to highlight the lack of action from the government in response to the global climate crisis.

Carney portrays a sea goddess at Killiney Bay as part of a campaign to raise awareness for rising sea levels. Photo courtesy of Ceara Carney.

Following the live stream, many people took to social media to express their disgust at the act of vandalism.

“People were just really upset that this historical building had been destroyed, and the irony of that just gets to me,” Carney says. 

“If we don’t change, and the government doesn’t change, that building could be subject to water damage from rising sea levels because Dublin is a coastal city. So if people really cared about that building they would be putting pressure on their government too to act now and fight the climate crisis. Nothing like that will matter if we keep going the way we are going.”

If you are interested in getting involved with Extinction Rebellion, email welcomexri@protonmail.com

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