Environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion is taking its message to the doors during the General Election campaign.
The “climate canvassers” went door-to-door on Sunday, highlighting to the public “the urgency of the climate crisis and the need to make climate action a key election issue”, a statement said.
They argue that this election is pivotal in ensuring that Irish political leaders take the actions necessary to reach the targets set out by leading climate scientists.
Extinction Rebellion, which says it is a strictly non-partisan movement, is not canvassing on behalf of any political party or candidate, and has been hitting the doors nationwide since November last year.
Volunteers took to the streets on Sunday in Dublin 8, around Christchurch, and Extinction Rebellion member Annette Jogensen says the group received a warm reception.
“When we get to the door, we’re quick to say we’re canvassing but not for any political party or candidate,” she said.
“After that people completely change mood, they’re very guarded at first, but they get really open and curious when we tell them why we’re there, that’s a lovely way in.
“We say that we’re canvassing on behalf of climate and 90% of people are supportive and interested.
“Today we had one out of about 50 houses that said it was nonsense, but the vast majority of people are concerned.
“It’s right across the board, I spoke with one woman in her sixties minding her grandchildren talking about how worried she was for their future, and everyone’s seen the news in Australia, so that came up an awful lot.
“At the same time, all the young people we speak to are straight away on top of it, and knowledgeable.”
Although not backing any particular candidates, the group says it asks the public to raise the issue of climate when politicians come knocking on their doors.
“We’re doing deep canvassing but listening as well, allowing them talk themselves into realising the issue is so big,” Annette added.
“We ask them to raise the issue with candidates that come to their door, we ask them to ask about the 8% reduction in greenhouse gas target, for instance.
“Climate can get very abstract so we ask people to raise these issues and we ask people to consider the politicians’ responses too when thinking about to vote.
“Often people ask us who to vote for, but we just tell them we can’t tell them.”
“We’re really encouraged and heartened, people really care about it, and this election is reflecting that.”
The group, which rose to prominence in Ireland last year after a number of traffic-halting protests in Dublin city centre, with elaborate dramatics, costumes and music, as well as a sleep-in in Merrion Square Park, says it is attracting new members all the time.
“It’s hard to count how many official ‘members’ we have, because of the structure, we’re made up of affinity groups, not one general membership organisation,” Annette said.
“It’s hard to calculate, we have over 1,000 people in the social media threads we use to communicate, but those who are very involved, canvassers for instance, we would have a couple of hundred.”