Herd of elephants outside Dáil urges Government to tackle COP28’s fossil fuel elephant in the room

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Irish Government must not let fossil fuels be the elephant in the room at UN Climate talks; they must push for a fast, fair fossil fuel phase out both globally and domestically. 

Members of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition [1], dressed as Big Oil CEOs and wearing life-like rubber elephant masks, posed outside the Dáil today [Wednesday 29th November], below a large “End Fossil Fuels” banner. The elephants symbolise the fossil fuel industry - which will be the “elephant in the room” at the UN COP28 global climate negotiations, which start in Dubai tomorrow. COP28 is the 28th round of these annual negotiations, but, despite this, there still hasn’t been an agreement from world leaders to phase out climate-wrecking fossil fuels. 

The Stop Climate Chaos Coalition of civil society, overseas development and grassroots organisations is demanding that:

  • Irish ministers in Dubai work proactively during COP28 to insist on a global commitment to getting off coal, oil and gas in a way that is fast and fair, where nations with the capacity and historical responsibility for emissions transition fastest, providing support to others around the world. 

  • The Irish Government urgently scales up actions needed to help Ireland break our dependence on dirty, expensive fossil fuels, in a way that ends energy poverty and leaves no workers or communities behind. 

Commenting, Jerry Mac Evilly, of Stop Climate Chaos member organisation Friends of the Earth said: 

“We have had almost thirty years of COP conferences which almost completely ignored the elephant in the room – fossil fuels. The science is clear - the window to prevent climate breakdown is closing and we don’t have time to waste; states must be clear that the only way to tackle the climate crisis is to urgently end our addiction to dirty, expensive gas, coal and oil . This is why the Government and the EU must respond by demanding a commitment to a fast and fair global phase out of fossil fuel production and consumption, combined with an end to further investment and subsidies” We are also calling on the Government to join the European Parliament and small island states and support a negotiating mandate for a new fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty.”

Caoimhe de Barra, CEO of Trócaire, an SCC member organisation said: 

"The climate crisis is having a devastating and disproportionate effect on the poorest people in the world. In many countries where Trócaire is working, we’re seeing communities having their entire villages swept away by floods, we’re seeing droughts that last for years, and people’s ability to cope is being eroded. It’s terribly unjust because people in the countries that are most affected by climate change have done the least to cause this crisis. This is why we need to phase out of fossil fuels urgently, but also in a fair manner, with the most industrialised countries that have caused this crisis leading the way".

Collette McEntee of Feminist Communities for Climate Justice said:

"The extraction and burning of fossil fuels is bad for our planet and for people, and we have known this for a long time. Women and marginalised communities, however, are disproportionately disadvantaged by the destruction caused by fossil fuel extraction and the volatile pricing of energy linked to fossil fuel dependency. Globally, women are most likely to be hit the hardest by the impacts of the climate crisis - a crisis which continued burning of fossil fuels will only worsen. COP28 needs to be a turning point where a fast and fair phasing out of fossil fuels is agreed upon. The most vulnerable communities all over the world suffer more with every delay."

Fossil fuels, that is coal, oil and gas, are fuelling climate breakdown. The fossil fuel industry is responsible for the climate crisis and drives a destructive economic system that harms peoples and the planet. Peoples and communities across the world have tirelessly campaigned against coal, oil, and gas for decades while the fossil fuel industry has known about the harm they cause and have used every trick to keep their profits flowing.

Several members of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition discussed COP28 at a Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Environment and Climate Action Session yesterday, 28th November. You can read their opening statements here [2].


1. Stop Climate Chaos (SCC) is a coalition of civil society organisations campaigning to ensure Ireland does its fair share to tackle the causes and consequences of climate change. Launched in 2007, it is the largest network of civil society organisations campaigning for action on climate change in Ireland.  Its membership includes environmental, development, youth, community, social, and faith-based organisations. Its members are: Action Aid, Afri, An Taisce, BirdWatch Ireland, Christian Aid Ireland, Christian Blind Mission, Clare PPN, Climate and Health Alliance, Comhlámh, Community Work Ireland, Concern Worldwide, Cultivate, Cyclist.ie, Dublin Friends of the Earth, Eco Congregation Ireland, ECO UNESCO, Feasta, Friends of the Earth, Good Energies Alliance Ireland, Irish Doctors for the Environment, Irish Heart Foundation, Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, Just Forests, National Women's Council of Ireland, National Youth Council of Ireland, Oxfam Ireland, Trócaire, Union of Students in Ireland, VOICE.

2. Read SCC member organisations’ opening statements at a Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Environment and Climate Action Session on COP28 which took place yesterday, 28th November, here: https://bit.ly/SCCatJOCreCOP28

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