Notes from the Climate Conversations Workshop 7pm 23rd June 2022
In attendance: Fran Gianquinto, Oonagh O’Dwyer, Bridget Ginnity, Martin Vernon, Theresa O’Donoghue, Mary Coffey, Elaine Bradley
Intro by Robert Mooney (Department Climate, Environment and Communications)
Met 4,000 in 2021 as part of National Dialogue on Climate Action (NDCA). ‘Climate Conversations 2022’ – engage, enable, empower. Online consultation to be launched within days. The core policy areas this year include:
- Climate Literacy: Understanding how aware public groups are of what needs to be done/ what can be done and how to do it to achieve carbon neutrality
- Just transition: Understanding where government and local authorities need to be providing support to ensure that the transition to climate neutrality is fair equitable and inclusive
- Transport and Travel: How do people in your area get around? What are people doing to reduce their climate impact from travel? If so, what motivates you. What are the main barriers from travelling more sustainably?
- Energy: What people are doing at home with regards to retrofitting and upgrading existing houses to improve energy efficiency. What is the public sentiment towards Offshore Generation?
- Food, waste, and retail: Supporting Ireland to move towards a more circular economy, by making products that last longer and can be repurposed. Initiatives in your area – what you’d like to see, what works well, what you’d be willing to do to reuse and recycle more
- There must be education for government and local authorities. Local authority climate literacy very poor. Submissions to Clare Co. Co. rejected regardless of who sends them in (PPN, An Taisce, IFA). Nothing taken on, nobody listening to experts in the county. Properly staff the LA (environmental scientist etc.) like LAWPRO. Must be genuinely open to input from citizens.
- There must be coherence/climate proofing across all government Departments eg. Agricultural policy conflicting with carbon reduction targets.
- The urgency of action seems not to be understood. It is a crisis that need action right now, not more policies. Climate Action Plan is here, needs to be acted on. Climate change is an existential threat. The opportunity for consultation is welcome but there is a concern that in developing the “perfect” solutions we delay implementing any solutions while the problem gets worse every day. There must be some hope and a way to keep it positive while promoting urgency (we can’t give the impression that all is lost or that is it too late)
- Communication strategy is needed (national awareness, cross media campaign). Message needs to be constant and repetitive. COVID style response/’war effort’ required. Climate information is currently coming from newspapers (The Guardian’, magazines, books and podcasts.
- CSO has moved to regional basis rather than countywide basis so it is very difficult to access statistics on County Clare.
- What happens to illegal polluters? How can laws be implemented. Environmental protections are very poor.
- Individuals cannot be held responsible for climate change when it is a systemic problem. Even so we need more education on strategies that people can implement such as biodigesters and composting. This should be part of the school curriculum. Also we must keep having conversations, putting the pressure on local representatives and national government, sending in submissions and applying for funding to aid activism.
- There is a knowledge barrier on how initiate home energy upgrades.
- Every politician and decision maker must be up to date and informed and must be bringing this up at every opportunity.
- We have an international obligation: droughts, floods, snowstorms, hurricanes in other countries. There will be large parts of the world that will become uninhabitable which will lead to mass migration to more temperate climates. We need to be prepared for that and put in the infrastructure now.
- Local Authorities will only act under direct instruction from a circular. Currently devising a contradictory County Development Plan. All planning must have the social and environmental impact measured (eg. The proposed Ennis Data Centre has huge environmental and carbon emissions impacts). Cost all climate actions in carbon emissions (eg. replacement of streetlamp bulbs). Whose responsibility is it to retrofit HAP houses?
- Clare PPN is working on a 5 Year Participative Anti-Poverty Strategy which has already uncovered statistics on Clare such as the county having the highest dependency on fossil fuels in Ireland. Some counties will need more help than others to reduce carbon emissions.
- Retro-fitting must be 100% funded in Clare. Apprenticeships for retrofitting should be hosted by the LA. Agriculture assumed to a part of all rural living whereas a majority live in town and villages. Coordinate measures in housing estates to upgrade all houses at once. This reduces costs and delays and supports shared infrastructure such as heat pumps/PV panels
- Good actions need to be incentivised Opportunity to sell personal carbon credits? If over 45 investing in retrofitting will not be repaid in lifetime (but the ‘return on investment’ is a safer planet)
- There must be muti annual funding for environmental groups so that they can focus on work rather than funding applications
- Proper biodiversity management will ensure that local people are kept on board. Rewetting bogs and creating wildlife areas are an opportunity to create accessible amenities for the community (walkways etc.) in addition to creating badly needed carbon sinks.
TRANSPOST & TRAVEL
- Currently living in Clare is very difficult without a car: access to work, healthcare, shops, social life. Why did it take a war in Ukraine to finally get a bus in West Clare?
- Active travel is difficult because the roads are not safe to cycle on. Genuine active travel measures must be implemented eg: speed limit reduction/priority for pedestrians (especially at roundabouts), continuous footpath/cycle path/permeability in housing areas/park and stride. Support safe use of scooters
- Identify back routes between towns and villages and lower speed limit to encourage active travel
- Very poor public transport infrastructure in Clare. Huge investment in rural public transport needed to provide frequent and dependable public transport. Currently public transport is focused on getting to and from Dublin. East Clare Accessible Transport was ‘regionalised’. It’s replacement, Local Link should meet everyone’s needs.
- School transport should be free.
- Working from home has moved people back to rural areas and reduced the carbon emissions of commuting.
- Tax on flights (some disagreement on this because some flights are unavoidable)
- There must be creative ideas around rural transport: shared vehicles, community busses etc.
- Ennis Data Centre will undermine all individual efforts that people in Clare will make. No policy coherence – we will not be able to reach climate reduction targets as long as we are building a huge LNG fossil fuel power station for data storage. The current plans for a data centre are not in compliance with the Clare Renewable Energy Strategy. It must not be allowed to go ahead.
- Offshore energy projects taking too long to get planning. We need renewables not only to reduce our carbon emissions but also to reduce dependency on oil and gas producing countries. We will not have this done by 2030. In addition, we must have at least 30% of our waters designates as Marine Protected Areas and any offshore planning must adhere.
- The government is missing renewable energy targets and therefore will miss the 2030 emissions target
- Electric cars need mining for lithium batteries (not environmentally friendly or ethical). Moving mining to countries where there is potentially more regulation and no child labour will not stop mining in the countries with poor regulation and child labour.
- Solar panels needed on every home (under centralised control with a scheme)
- Supply could be reduced by 5%. Energy rationing. This might happen anyway through blackouts if the data centre goes ahead.
- The Climate Action Plan must be implemented now.
- Give planning permission to onshore wind farm applications, with due regard for impact on houses in immediate neighbourhood. Provide direct benefits to those adversely impacted (e.g. free electricity).
- Food education (reduce waste, cooking from scratch, how to grow your own, how to compost food waste)
- Food security depends on regenerative farming with exemplars already throughout the county. Current threats to food security in Ireland are phenological mismatch and an over dependency on cheap imports (international conflict creating scarcity and volatile prices).
- Some economies depend on the production of military equipment but the military war machine not only destroys human lives, it is one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions and destroys entire ecological systems.
- Town centre living (lots of vacancies hollowing out town centre), active travel, revitalised business
- What will the ultimate cost be when climate change hits? Houses in Lahinch already struggling to get insurance. Acting to minimise now is better and cheaper than reacting afterwards.
- Mining for lithium is damaging. Precious metals and minerals need to be captured at recycling stage
- Planned obsolescence must be stopped. (devices that cannot be opened to be fixed, ‘upgrades’ that render older devices useless, electronics and white goods more expensive to fix than replace).
- Stop use of pesticide/herbicide, also in Burren
- Reduce overfishing to allow stock to regenerate. Promote sustainable fishing practices.
- Support farmers to rewet bogs and stop the removal of scrub and hedgegrows.