Kildare climate change activist inspired by Newbridge College teacher and Maynooth professor

Newbridge’s Cormac Nugent is a member of Extinction Rebellion

Conor McHugh


Conor McHugh


Kildare climate change activist inspired by Newbridge College teacher Maynooth professor

Newbridge man Cormac Nugent with Susan Breen of Extinction Rebellion pictured at the Bloom Festival last week

A young Newbridge man says that studying geography in Maynooth under the tutelage of Nobel Prize winner John Sweeney has lead to his climate change activism.

Cormac Nugent loved studying geography in school in Newbridge College and went on to study it in Maynooth where he encountered Professor Sweeney, who was one of the contributor to the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

Mr Nugent studied Geography and International Development at the north Kildare university and while he says his interest in climate change was really sparked, it also left him quite depressed about our response to cimate change.

He also credits Newbridge College’s geography James Cash with creating awareness of the dire need to do something about climate change.

“I got an awful shock at the state of the climate,” he said. “I basically lost hope in the entire thing.”

He added that such was the dire state of the climate that he began to doubt that there was much of a future left.

However he says that events of the past year has restored some of his hope in humanity, in particular the schools’ strike in support of Extinction Rebellion, an international organisation that believes that humanity has “entered a period of abrupt climate breakdown, and that we are in the midst of a mass extinction of our own making”.

Cormac also got involved in Extinction Rebellion Ireland, and in particlar helped to set up the Kildare branch of it.

“In April I travelled to London for three days to the large scale protests that took place to help bring about action on the climate and biodiversity emergency that we are in.”

He is frustrated at govenrment inaction in the face of the climate crisis.

“We shouldn’t be relying on Russian gas for our fuel,” he says, and argues that we need to be using solely renewable energy by 2030.

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“We really don’t have too much time to act,” he points out, adding that a 10 metre rise in sea levels is a possibility.

On local level, he says that Extinction Rebellion Ireland is looking for Kildare County Council to declare a climate emergency, and from there to draw up and implement a plan to tackle climate change.

He is also involved in plans, for September, for another Extinction Rebellion strike that might, if they can get their way, go beyond schools and perhaps even go so far as workers.

And discussions are taking place with trade unions with this in mind.

It is hoped that, overall, the September activitism will be “much bigger” than the previous one.

On another local level he says that we need to stop harvesting and burning peat in industrial quanities on our bogs, but he notes that Bord na Mona appears to moving quickly in that regard, having set a deadline in 2024 for when they will be a carbon neutral company.

The next meeting of Extinction Rebellion will be in O’Rourkes in Newbridge at 7.30pm on Wednesday.

He says that there were 16 or 17 people at the first meeting and is confident that the organisation can grow even more.

Last week, he appeared at the Bloom Festival, he and fellow activist Susan Breen as ‘Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden’ to raise awareness. The pair were covered in gold paint and adorned with flowers and greenery.

They handed out thousands of packets of pollinator-friendly organic flower seeds to the public to raise awareness, and even met President Michael D Higgins.