Over 200 delegates from local authorities throughout Ireland are attending a conference today on tackling the adverse effects of Climate Change. The conference, organised by Dublin City Council in partnership with “Change", the Government’s climate change awareness campaign, is specifically designed to assist and encourage local authorities to take an active role in helping Ireland achieve its targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2020. The Elected Members of Dublin City Council initiated the conference, to assist elected members and local authority officials to develop climate change strategies, as each local authority is required to prepare a Climate Change Strategy. Dublin City Council published its Climate Change Strategy earlier this year.
In his keynote address, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Mr John Gormley, T.D. challenged local authorities to become carbon neutral and told delegates that unless we face up to our environmental challenges, Ireland cannot hope to meet its economic ones. The Minister also called on local authorities to implement policies and strategies both within the local authorities themselves and for the wider community, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Local Government has a huge role in relation to sustainable transport planning including designing roads and streets to promote walking and cycling and providing facilities for public transport. I am relying on you to implement National plans at local level. I would also ask you to encourage promotion of sustainable travel patterns among employees and car-sharing.”
“One of the effects of climate change that can be anticipated, and a key adaptation issue, is the management of water and the maintenance of quality standards as the global temperature increases and rainfall patterns change,” said Minister Gormley. “In order to address this I have recently published a consultation paper on Flood Risk Management Guidelines, intended to ensure a more rigorous and systematic approach to integrating flood risk management in the preparation of development plans, local area plans and in determining planning applications. Against the background of a warming climate, this step is essential for the purposes of proper planning and development.”
The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Eibhlin Byrne, opened the conference and told delegates that she is proud of the leadership role that Dublin City Council has taken in tackling climate change.
“Dublin City Council is delighted to host this conference giving local, national and international perspectives on the way forward for local authorities in tackling the adverse effects of climate change,” said The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Eibhlin Byrne. “We cannot achieve our objectives without addressing difficult issues such as social cohesion, urban sprawl and climate plans. We recognise that by tackling climate change together, in partnership, we can achieve real progress. To that end, I will be signing a European declaration on climate change on behalf of Dubliners next week in France, highlighting the essential role played by cities in combating climate change. The Declaration is part of the French Presidency of the European Union and includes a Mayor’s conference on climate change and energy, which I will be actively contributing to.”
Mr. Roland Zinkernagel, EU Coordinator and Sustainability Strategist for City of Malmo Council, provided an insight into international best practice and describe how his city is creating sustainable districts. ”The City of Malmö is working on increasing the amount of renewable energy generated within or in close proximity to the city . We opened an off-shore windpower plant outside Malmö which provides electricity to 60,000 households in the city and during the coming year we will work intensely to introduce ’urban windpower’, such as small scale windpower plants installed on city homes.”
”Co-operation is key to achieving a sustainable society. The EU and national governments have set ambitious targets for the amount of renewable energy we need to produce and use, and I believe this is only possible to reach if people and organisations work together to create synergies and learn from each other,” said Mr. Roland Zinkernagel, EU Coordinator and Sustainability Strategist for City of Malmo Council. ”Malmo City Council is working with other European cities, including Dublin, to develop strategies and plans to reach higher targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency.”
Dublin City Council’s Environment & Engineering SPC initiated this conference and its Chairman, Cllr Tom Stafford told delegates that the flooding that took place in various parts of the country this summer has brought home the real effects of climate change.
“As local authorities, we need to change our practices and attitude in order to deal with, and to minimise, the effects of climate change, and we need to communicate this message to our citizens. Through this conference, local authorities at home and abroad can support each other in bringing about this change”, said Cllr. Tom Stafford, Chairperson of Dublin City Council’s Environment and Engineering SPC.
“Dublin City Council’s Climate Change Strategy really puts Dublin up there among the leading European cities in the fight against climate change; it will also help our businesses and households in the very practical matter of keeping their energy bills down,” said Dr Gerry Wardell, Director of CODEMA, Dublin City Council’s Energy Agency.
Ireland is committed to limiting its emissions as part of the Kyoto Protocol and has agreed to an EU target of reducing emission by at least 20% below 1990 levels by 2020. The National Climate Change Strategy 2007-2012 sets out the measures by which Ireland will meet its Kyoto Protocol commitments, and how these measures will contribute to meeting deeper greenhouse gas emission reductions targets post-2012.
The Government’s “Change” campaign has been established to inform people about climate change and it is working with the public sector, business, large industry, tourism and education to change behaviour in order to reduce Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions and thus tackle climate change. For more information and to find out what actions you can take visit www.change.ie or lo-call 1890 242 643.