The aim of this section is to illustrate, with the aid of statistics, the lived experience of children in Ireland regarding the climate crisis and the rural-urban divide.
The data below illustrates the disproportionate impact the climate crisis has on rural areas and alongside the divide to provide necessary resources to those affected. Young people were consulted on the following topics:
- Impact of the climate crisis
- Access to resources and support
- Access to a Just Transition
How young people in rural Ireland have been impacted by the climate crisis.
During our consultation, it became evident that children living in rural areas had a disproportionate amount of experience in dealing with the impacts of the climate crisis.
58% of rural respondents (Figure 2) had been impacted by the climate crisis, compared to just 21% of urban respondents (Figure 1). This shows that rural respondents have been much more heavily impacted by the climate crisis.
Despite only 31.4% of Ireland’s population living in a rural area, rural respondents made up over ¾ of the total respondents who answered ‘yes’ to having been impacted by the climate crisis (Figure 3). This further shows a disproportionate impact.
How supported do young people in rural communities feel they have been supported in accessing resources, managing impacts and accessing a just transition?
In our research, there was a notable discrepancy between rural and urban respondents in the level of support offered to achieve a just transition.
65.6% of those who rated the support offered to their community in the 1-2 (lowest) range were from rural areas. Not a single urban respondent gave a score of 1 (lowest). (Figures 4 and 5)
In accessing governmental support for a Just Transition there is a concerning discrepancy, with 65.5% of rural respondents rating support as low compared to 28.8% in urban areas (Figure 6).
Young people are feeling the impact of this in their day-to-day lives, one commenting “How can we have transitions to solutions that don’t even exist”. The farming community bears a particular burden here, “[there are] no grants which most people need, e.g small farmers cannot afford greener options”.
68% of respondents who reported that resources were inaccessible to them were from rural areas, compared to 4% in suburban areas and 12% in urban areas (Figure 7). One participant in our consultation states; “I live in a rural area and though we have the space for greener alternatives, we are never paid any heed, or given any options”.
There is a disparity in the quality of resources available. A participant noted that electric cars at petrol stations are “often broken, which turns people off switching to electric cars”.
Furthermore, young people often have to find climate information themselves in sources outside of school. “[There are] not many physical resources but I am fortunate enough to have good WIFI and internet connection so I can find plenty of resources online.” When asked where they find information about the climate crisis one rural participant said ‘Only online and only if I seek them out myself’.
Based on our research regarding discrimination and inequality surrounding:
- Impacts of the climate crisis
- Supports for dealing with the impacts of the crisis
- Accessibility of resources
- Government support for accessing a Just Transition
We make the following recommendations:
- Comprehensive rural public transport infrastructure
- 15 minute cities- walkable and accessible by public transport
- Increased pedestrianisation in cities
- This will work to reduce discrimination between rural and urban and also increase ability of children to access opportunities in education and employment.
- Just Transition
- Economically incentivise sustainable farming and support the farming community.
- Place the policy emphasis on those who are most responsible by focusing on corporations.
- Engaging with children in the Travelling Community
- Provide more community resources such as bins, benches and cycle paths.
- Engage with and support rural Ireland
- ‘Farmers are barely talked about’
- More accessible grants for electric cars and solar panels
- Retraining and supporting continued employment in alternative sectors.
- Implement Education for Sustainable Development
- Introduce a TY module on climate action
- Focus education on empowerment and developing key skills.
- Free third level education
- Comprehensive youth involvement in designing education placing youth voices be at the forefront