Ireland slowly wakes to opportunity of climate change

Written by Liam Murtagh

WHAT CAN WE IN COUNTY MONAGHAN DO?

What needs to be done at a national level and also at a local level in County Monaghan to put us back on course and play our part in averting global climate chaos?

cara aug.png

Dr Cara Augustenborg, Chairperson of Friends of the Earth and UCD lecturer on climate change

In a recent interview on RTE One, Dr Cara Augustenborg succinctly set out the challenges and opportunities relating to climate change. She pointed out that during the recession our emissions went down but the upturn in the economy has seen increased emissions in the transport and agriculture sectors – this is at a time when our country has committed to a reduction in emissions. She indicated that we need to seize the opportunity and invest in sustainable transport. In other words we must need to electrify more of our public transport system and incentivise the purchase of electric cars.

In relation to agriculture Dr Augustenborg said that we need to diversify into sustainable types of agriculture, some of which would potentially feed into the renewable energy sector. One can add that sustainable forestry is another area of opportunity for rural Ireland.

Dr Augustenborg argued that one hundred thousand jobs could be created if we move to a low carbon society and a fully renewable energy system. There needs to be a “just transition”, she said, in closing down peat and coal burning power stations and retraining workers for the renewable energy sector. In regard to solar PV she argued that Ireland was being left behind in the rooftop revolution. In other countries house owners are being paid for the surplus electricity they sell to the electricity providers.

In conclusion Dr Augustenborg said that the Government is legally obliged to publish a climate change mitigation plan by 10th June 2017 detailing how we will reduce emissions. The climate campaigner commented: “So far we have not seen any kind of action that would indicate how we would close the gap on meeting our 2020 and 2030 targets.”

IMPLICATIONS FOR COUNTY MONAGHAN

All sectors in County Monaghan have a role to play in moving the county to a low carbon economy. This includes private businesses, the agri sector, community organisations, church bodies and public sector. As individuals if we decide to retrofit our homes to save energy or we install renewables in our homes we engage local contractors and this helps our local economy.

At a county level one key player is our local authority. Monaghan County Council has begun a public consultation process in relation to the preparation of its Monaghan County Development Plan 2019 – 2025. Now is an opportune time for members of the public to make submissions and highlight the need for County Monaghan to seize the opportunities and become a low carbon county. The new plan will extend over much of the period when Ireland will have to meet very challenging 2030 emissions targets or face heavy fines which will eventually impact badly on all of us.

It is vital that the local authority ‘sustainability proof’ all the suggestions and proposals that will be submitted for inclusion in the Plan. All the sections of the Plan are relevant in relation to Ireland’s greenhouse emissions; Housing and Population Growth, Enterprise and Employment, Environment, National Planning Framework, Rural Development, Community Facilities, Town Centres, Transport & Infrastructure, Heritage & Landscape, Tourism & the Arts. The closing date for submissions is Friday, 5 May.

dev planAbove is the opening section of Monaghan County Council’s consultation paper in relation to the 2019-2025 Development Plan. The paper poses questions and seeks your opinion on how the current issues facing your community can be addressed. Suggestions for the Plan on how our communities could move to a thriving low carbon economy / society would no doubt contribute positively to the common good. The full paper can be viewed on http://www.monaghan.ie

A link to the May noticeboard can be found here

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