Ireland Climate action and sustainable development

Cork City Council’s Climate Action Committee

Photo: Cork City Council

As part of this year’s LGIU Councillor Awards, Cork City Council elected members have been acknowledged as part of an international showcase of excellent local government practice for establishing and leading the ‘Climate Action Committee’ and facilitating the council’s overall strategy to target climate change.

Background

Cork City Council’s elected members established the ‘Climate Action Committee’ when they began their current 5-year role in June 2019. The ‘Climate Action Committee’ consists of 15 councillors from across the political spectrum (of a total number of Cllrs is 31) and was deemed necessary to help tackle the existential crisis which we are currently dealing with as a result of disruptive climate change.

Indeed, one of the first item on the agenda of the new council back in June 2019 was to declare a climate and biodiversity emergency.  The committee is supported by the Executive of Cork City Council, steered by Paul Moynihan, Director of Services, Corporate Affairs and International Relations.

Since the Climate Action Committee was set up, it has proactively brought climate change and biodiversity issues into much sharper focus. It has encouraged the setting up of a complementary ‘Climate Action Team’ within Cork City Council’s executive staff, thus drawing together many of the climate and biodiversity staff experts into a more coherent and effective body to encourage behavioural change.

It has invited many external experts to speak at its meetings, thus broadening the Committee members own knowledge base as well promoting positive climate action among the entire Council and the local stakeholders.

The ‘Climate Action Committee’ has greatly facilitated the development and adoption of our ‘Climate Change Adaptation Strategy 2019-2024’, which was adopted on 30th September 2019 and the committee continues to drive the implementation aspects of this strategy.

The Committee is fully supportive of a future climate change mitigation strategy, which will help position adaptation and mitigation actions under the overall umbrella of a ‘Climate Action Plan’. All these plans and strategies include biodiversity and circular economy elements, as well as climate action, and use as a master template the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In October 2020, Cork City Council prepared an annual update on climate action, in keeping with its obligations under national climate action policy. To coincide with this, a special public meeting of the Climate Action Committee took place on Friday, 16th October 2020.

It was live streamed via Cork City Council’s website, Facebook page and YouTube channel. The meeting provided an update on the climate action progress and initiatives by Cork City Council as the committee reached its one-year anniversary.

Invited guests were in attendance, which provided an opportunity for the committee to engage both nationally and with civil society. These guests were the chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action, Brian Leddin T.D., and Theresa Rose Sebastian of Fridays for Future.

A Special Meeting was then held on 30th October with Minister Eamon Ryan to discuss Active Transport Infrastructure.

Some of Cork City Council’s highlights over the past 12 months have been:

  • Becoming the first local authority in Ireland to set up a dedicated Climate Action Committee;
  • One of the first local authorities to declare climate and biodiversity emergency in June 2019;
  • Recognised as a local authority who carried out a creative and comprehensive public engagement programme as part of the public consultation phase of the development of the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy 2019-2024 during summer of 2019;
  • Largest EV (electric vehicles) fleet in the local authority sector;
  • Large-scale pedestrianisation of city centre streets, in tandem with continuing improvements in cycling infrastructure;
  • Currently one of the leading local authorities in terms of energy reduction as part of our 2020 national targets.

Noteworthy agenda items

  • Climate Change Adaptation Strategy
  • Air Quality And Enforcement Of Smokey Fuels Ban In Cork City
  • Electric Vehicle Rollout 2020 – Cork City Council – Cormac O’Sullivan
  • Greening of Events
  • Biodiversity
  • Active Transport Infrastructure
  • CARO – Climate Action Regional Office

Presenters included

  • Minister Eamon Ryan
  • Brian Leddin T.D.
  • Theresa Rose Sebastian, Fridays for Future
  • Sinéad Mercier, Consultant on Climate Change Law and Policy
  • Dr Damien Thomas, Senior Policy Analyst, National Economic and Social Council
  • Ross Church, Programme Manager, South-West Regional Enterprise Plan
  • Aoife Dean, Communications & Public Engagement Manager (MAREI/UCC)
  • Liam Dromey, CARO Regional Co-ordinator
  • Alex Grassick, CARO Regional Executive

 

This blog is part of a series celebrating and sharing the successes of councillor-led initiatives. If there’s a project or policy in your council that you’d like us to feature, please get in touch.

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