HELP PLAN FOR A MORE RESILIENT MONAGHAN
Bí ullamh (be prepared), the motto of the boy scouts is good advice as regards being ready to deal with a possible emergency. The All of Government Climate Action Plan was published on Monday and it is hoped that it will put Ireland on the path to zero climate pollution by 2050. Here in County Monaghan, people have been invited to have a say in the development of the County Council’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy to manage the effects on our county of an increasing global climate crisis. The closing date for submissions on the draft strategy is Wednesday, 26 June. We look here at why these strategies are vital for our future, and why it is important that people submit their suggestions.
Local Authorities are going to be playing an increasingly vital and central role in helping their communities to adapt to the effects of climate change. They will need to plan for, and respond to, emergency situations arising from extreme weather events. Given their close relationship with the community, they can respond faster and more effectively than other government agencies, as has been demonstrated in their reaction to extreme weather events in recent years. Local Authorities across Ireland have been working on developing regional Climate Adaptation Strategies since the publication of the Paris Agreement in 2015.
WHAT IS CLIMATE ADAPTATION?
Climate strategies fall under two broad themes, mitigation and adaptation. Climate mitigation strategies look at ways to prevent or limit the effects of practices that are doing damage to the atmosphere that gives life to our planet, such as emissions, waste and fossil fuel use. Climate adaptation strategies are plans that facilitate futureproofing, community resilience and reorganisation as the true extent of the damage becomes evident and really starts to impact our lifestyles. In Monaghan County Council’s draft document, Climate Adaptation is said to be ‘best described as planning proactively to take action and make adjustments to minimise or avoid the existing and anticipated impacts from climate change’.
The draft plan covers the following themes: Local Adaptation Governance and Business Operations (integrating and mainstreaming considerations into activities of the local authority to ensure appropriate operational protocols), Infrastructure and Built Environment (increasing capacity for climate resilient structural infrastructure, informed investment decisions and contribution towards a low carbon society), Land use and Development (devising sustainable policies to influence positive behavioural changes, support climate adaptation actions and endorse approaches for a successful transition process), Drainage and Flood Management (understanding risks and consequences, and successful management of a coordinated approach to drainage and flooding), Natural Resources and Cultural Infrastructure (fostering and implementing meaningful approaches to protecting natural and key cultural assets through an appreciation for their adaptive capacities) and Community Health and Wellbeing (empowering communities with understanding of climate risks and increasing their resilience and capacity to champion climate action at local level).
Last weekend we saw the effects of extreme flooding in Lincolnshire, England. Fortunately, the area had a ‘Resilience Forum’ in place to help co-ordinate and support an emergency response. This involves a range of groups such as the Red Cross and individuals, including 4×4 vehicle owners, who were on standby to assist rescue and relief efforts. In risk management there is always a need to consider a range of scenarios and to be prepared for every eventuality. In the case of climate breakdown, the risks range from extreme weather to the effects of new conflicts, economic breakdown, disease and mass migrations. In Ireland, it is vital that local authorities create their own strategic plans, enhance the resilience of individuals, families and communities and facilitate Civil Defence services and other relevant organisations at a local level. The Civil Defence is a volunteer-based organisation, with 3,500 volunteer members, that is available to assist local communities and offers support to the frontline emergency services.
In submitting suggestions for the plan, it would be worthwhile to consider the community you live in, what sector you work in and what could be done in the next few years to prepare for the impact of climate breakdown. We have an opportunity to be a part of planning such preparations. Submissions to Monaghan County Council’s strategy can be made by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or in writing to Kieran Duffy, A/Senior Executive Engineer, Environmental Services, Monaghan County Council, Civic Offices, Riverside Road, Carrickmacross. Closing date for receipt of is Wednesday, 26 June 2019. More information can be found on www.climateireland.ie and www.monaghan.ie.