Students from around the country have taken part in a debate on climate action in the Seanad.

Contributors called for a renewed focus on the need for a "just transition", the ending of so called "fast-fashion" and improving public transport in rural Ireland.

The session was a joint venture between the Seanad and the Oireachtas Committee on Environment and Climate Action.

Many students focused on the issue of poverty and the need to support people across society to make the change towards a greener future.

Sixteen-year-old Julie Murphy, from Co Clare, said that "Ireland needs to transition to a stage where sustainability and a greener way of living are the cheaper options, therefore becoming the more desired and default options".

Ruth Cunningham from Co Roscommon told TDs and Senators that those aged over 50 would likely avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

"For those of us who will be forced to confront the possible future, we must act now!," she urged.

Access to public transport in rural Ireland was a major issue for many of the student contributors today. The move towards electric vehicles was also seen as expensive and therefore beyond the reach of many people.

Finlay Thompson from Donegal told the Seanad that cheaper options must be explored.

"Other options, such as hydrogen cars, could be a suitable alternative to electric ones, they could solve some of the problems that electric cars face in rural Ireland," he explained.

The voting age was also discussed.

Mary Osubor Kennedy from Co Cork called for it to be lowered to allow 16-year-olds like her to vote.

"Being able to vote at sixteen would bring issues like the climate crisis much more sharply into consideration," she told members and students.

Ending so called "fast-fashion", which involves the mass production of popular clothing items at low cost, was also a focus for many contributors today.

Orna O'Brien, from the Foróige branch in Co Cork, told the chamber that society should "fall back" to the practices of "our parents and grandparents" by repairing and altering clothes, as opposed to purchasing replacements.

"For example, the trousers that I am wearing today were bought second hand and then tailored to fit me in my local alteration shop," she said.

Orna O'Brien

Cathaoirleach of the Seanad, Senator Mark Daly, explained that the decision to host the event inside the Upper House today was inspired by the words of former President and Senator, Mary Robinson.

During an event to launch the centenary of the Seanad earlier this year, Mrs Robinson called on the Seanad to take a leading role in highlighting climate change.

However, he said that it was also an opportunity to bring students, who usually take part in school climate change demonstrations each Friday outside Leinster House, inside the parliament building.

Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action, Brian Leddin, said that it was important to hear the views of those who will be worst affected by the climate crisis.

"It's critically important that we listen to them, hear their concerns, these are the people that are going to be tasked with a lot of the changes in the decades to come," Deputy Leddin said.

Reacting to the contribution of students, Senator Lynn Boylan of Sinn Féin called on the participants to "keep the pressure on legislators".

"It is absolutely critical that we feel the pressure to act on climate change because none of this is easy," she told the Seanad.

Senator Róisín Garvey of the Green Party told those gathered "I believe it's not too late".

Senator Garvey said she was once filled with despair in relation to the climate crisis but is now motived by hope.

However, she warned "there is no point having hope without action".

It is hoped that this session will be the first of a series of engagements in the Upper House, the intention being to hear the views of young people on climate change and a range of other issues.