Apr 16, 2024

Environmental Activists Protest College’s ‘Posturing’

Students staged a protest condemning College's acceptance of donations from polluting companies.

Brídín Ní Fhearraigh-JoyceDeputy News Editor
Sinéad Baker for The University Times

On March 15th, student activists poured red paint on College’s Green Week sign to protest the sponsorships that College receives from companies such as Ryanair, Coca-Cola and CRH. 

The group also called upon College to sign the Fossil Fuels Non-Proliferation Treaty, which has been endorsed by the University of Cork (UCC). 

Trinity is linked to Coca-Cola through its Commercial Revenue Unit. The partnership means primarily Coca-Cola products are sold in the Students’ Union Shop, The Buttery restaurant, and The Perch café. In return, Coca-Cola gives ‘a significant contribution to Trinity Sport to develop student health, fitness and wellbeing’. In 2023, in an audit conducted by the organisation ‘Break Free From Plastic’, Coca-Cola was named one of the five biggest plastic polluting companies globally.


In an investigation conducted by The University Times, College was found to have accepted at least €1.5 million in funding from CRH, a building materials company. CRH was described in The Irish Independent in 2008 as producing “more damaging greenhouse gases than Luxembourg”.

In April 2021, College accepted a €1.5 million donation from Ryanair to “engage in research around sustainable aviation fuels, zero carbon aircraft propulsion systems and noise mapping”. In 2020, the European campaign group Transport and Environment, found Ryanair to be Europe’s top polluting airline, having emitted 13.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO₂) . On College’s website announcing the sponsorship, Ryanair is described as “Europe’s greenest airline”. 

Environmental Officer Nathan Hutchinson wrote in a letter decrying College’s climate action. The letter states that “While the College is keen to show that it takes seriously the ongoing climate crisis, it loathes to do so in a way that challenges the status quo in any way shape or form.

TCD’s 2023 Sustainability Report states that “We will be a university, a place, and a community where climate change and biodiversity loss are addressed in a holistic, integrated and health-focused way to protect and restore our planetary home for future generations”. 

The report further states College “must reduce GreenHouse Gas (GHG) emissions to net zero by 2050, requiring a global transformation in energy use, and a switch to fossil-fuel-free economies”, and one of the targets of this reduction will include “Partnerships, collaborations and engagements with our community, within and outside Trinity”. 

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