Cities occupy approximately 3% of the Earth’s surface area but account for 60-80% percent of energy consumption and at least 70% of carbon emissions. Creating safe, resilient and sustainable cities is one of the top priorities of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG 11 defines sustainable cities as those that are dedicated to achieving green sustainability, social sustainability and economic sustainability. They enable opportunities for all through inclusive design and maintaining sustainable economic growth. Successful sustainable cities also minimise inputs of energy, water, and food, and reduce outputs of waste, heat, air pollution, and water pollution. Sustainable cities are the cities of the future – where did the concept of sustainable cities originate, what are some examples of sustainable cities and how can we incorporate some of these principles into our own towns and cities here in Ireland? What will it take to make a city like Monaghan more sustainable? Candice Moen takes a closer look.
WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL AND WHY MUST WE STOP CUTTING IT?
The recent move by Eamon Ryan to ban the harvesting of peat in Ireland caused an uproar. Peat has been used for heating and cooking in Ireland for centuries. Turbary rights, which are part of Ireland’s intangible cultural heritage, have meant that people living in homesteads in rural areas have inherited a right to cut and remove turf from specific plots of peatland linked to these dwelling houses. In more recent times, peat has been used commercially in horticulture and former peatlands have been used for afforestation and in agriculture. But, when we look at peat extraction, and the damage it is doing to what is left of our wetlands, against the backdrop of climate change, biodiversity loss and carbon sequestration, it is inescapably evident that extraction practices cannot continue. The growing impact of smoky fuels on human health also cannot be ignored.
Despite internal disagreement, the EU recently announced that it is proposing to classify energy from nuclear power as green. If a majority of member states back it, it will become EU law in 2023. Dermot McNally takes a look at the arguments involved and the effect this might might have on Ireland.
CURRENTLY OPEN FOR PUBLIC CONSULTATION – HAVE YOUR SAY!
Ireland’s third River Basin Management Plan is currently under development and is open for public consultation. River Basin Management Plans are pivotal tools for the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive. The Water Framework Directive is European legislation that requires our rivers, lakes, groundwater and coastal water to achieve a healthy state, or what’s known as ‘good ecological status’.Ireland’s first RBMP was published in 2009, the second was published in 2018, and the third RBMP due to cover the period 2022-2027 is in the process of being finalised. But what does all of this mean?
It’s well understood that the ever increasing demand for goods and services is fueling climate breakdown. Yet despite this advertisers go to extreme expense to convince us to spend more and more. That’s why activists and campaigners of all kinds are heaping pressure on the advertising industry (and the biggest polluters) to clean up their act. Dermot McNally investigates.
WILL WE BE LEADERS OR LAGGARDS IN IMPLEMENTING IT?
Ireland has been described in recent years as a ‘climate laggard’ because of our country’s failure to meet commitments on EU greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. Recently the Irish Government launched its new Climate Action Plan. It sets out how all of us in this country will play our part in the global effort to keep global warming to less than 1.5°C.Scientists say that warming above this level will increase the risk of climate chaos and significant suffering for humanity. Liam Murtagh sets out the key elements of Ireland’s Climate Action Plan and considers what is needed to ensure that the plan is implemented successfully.
MEG member Liam Murtagh went along recently to a conference on Climate Justice hosted by Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) and organised by the Drogheda based development education group ‘Development Perspectives’. While initially setting out the extent of the global challenges of climate change and climate justice and the lack of action to address them, the conference presenters went on to focus on some practical responses in the education field in Ireland.
Main speakers at the Climate Justice conference were l to r:John Sweeney, Climatologist, NUI Maynooth, Ann Cleary, DkIT Green-CampusCommittee and Elaine Nevin, Eco UNESCO.
MEG member Liam Murtagh went along recently to a special seminar entitled ‘Climate Justice begins at Home’ – an event held to coincide with the Mary Robinson Foundation’s international conference in Dublin, ‘Hunger – Nutrition – Climate Justice 2013’ The seminar was organised by Friends of the Earth and Food Sovereignty Ireland.
Cecilia Kibe from Kenya was just one of the many grassroots community members from the developing world who had travelled to the Dublin conference to represent their communities. The conference aimed to focus the eyes of the world and in particular the attention of decision makers on the injustice of climate change – a situation in which the people who have not caused climate change are the ones who are suffering the most from its effects. At the seminar Cecilia described how climate change is being primarily caused by the burning of fossil coal and oil in the developed world and that it is setting back the efforts to address the Millenium Development Goals in the developing world. She outlined the impact of droughts on food production in East Africa and also the effects of land erosion which happens in certain areas when there are downpours following long periods of drought.