A NINE-DAY walk by a group of environmental activists to draw attention to the climate and biodiversity crisis will begin at Ennis this Saturday, April 9.
The Climate Justice Caravan will be walking across Munster, from Ennis to Tarbert, for climate justice and the rights of nature taking in a number of sites in the Banner County facing environmental challenges.
The group is made up of members from, and supported by, the Glasgow Agreement, Extinction Rebellion, Futureproof Clare, Rights of Nature Ireland, Cappagh Farmers Support Group, Keep Tulla Untouched, Safety Before LNG, Friends of Ardee Bog, Irish Seed Savers Association, Ecojustice Ireland, Unite Community Climate Justice branch, and Cultivate.
The Caravan will walk from Ennis to Tulla to Scarriff, until it meets the River Shannon at Killaloe. It will then proceed alongside the river through Clonlara, Shannon Banks, Mungret, Curraghchase, Aughinish Alumina, Knockpatrick, and finally Tarbert.
Along the nine-day journey, the Climate Justice Caravan will be visiting locations linked to the climate and biodiversity crisis, such as the prospective mining site at Tulla, the highly polluting Aughinish Alumina found on the banks of the Shannon River, and the Shannon LNG site at Tarbert.
To protect both the natural ecosystems and people that rely on them, the Climate Justice Caravan will advocate that the River Shannon and the surrounding area be granted inalienable rights to have it protected under law.
Jacintha van Roij, spokesperson for Keep Tulla Untouched, which was formed in response to the potential for mining in east Clare, said, “We live in rich biodiversity and within an ecosystem that needs to be protected from extractivism and exploitation. Mining practices pollute the water levels for eternity, no matter how much care is given to environmental considerations.”
Aisling Wheeler, meanwhile, of Futureproof Clare, said, “The Shannon River flows through Ireland and its importance to the communities and biodiversity that live alongside the river highlights the interconnectedness between nature and humankind. We cannot protect ourselves without first protecting Nature.”
This action is a continuation of the both national and international Rights of Nature movement. In 2021 in Ireland, the Rights of Nature was adopted by Derry City and Strabane district councils.
Internationally, the movement has been led primarily by indigenous groups, and so far rights have been granted to rivers and other natural entities across the world in places such as Ecuador, New Zealand, India, Colombia, and across Africa.
“We hope this action will support the rights to be evoked for the Shannon River and surrounding area, as well as inspire the Rights of Nature to be adopted into Irish national law in the future,” said Oscar Mooney, Extinction Rebellion Ireland
This action was inspired by an international callout by the Glasgow Agreement for grassroots climate groups to walk for Climate Justice. During this same time period, climate activists in Portugal will be walking 400km to highlight how climate change has already altered their local ecosystems while reducing the ability of locals to cope with the drastic climatic changes.
João Camargo, Portuguese climate researcher and activist, said, “We’re delighted to be doing our caravan at the same time as our friends in Ireland. Never in the history of social and political movements do we need more international solidarity and responses than ever. In Portugal, the climate crisis has rendered our rural areas a vulnerable and dangerous place to live in – The climate crisis isn’t just tomorrow, it’s already here.”