Scale of the climate emergency requires a response at every level of society
The Green Party is proposing that a Climate Action Committee be established in every local authority in Ireland following the local elections in May.
The party claims that the scale of the crisis is such now a response is needed by every part of society and that Local Government is best placed to enable, encourage and lead the radical change needed to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change.
Green Party spokesperson for Local Government, Cllr Malcolm Noonan said that the existing Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) system in local government and recent participative structures for NGO’s and the community and voluntary sector, should be used to put in place strong, robust structures to lead transformative change within local government.
“This will require additional resourcing and staffing but it is our view that establishing a dedicated Climate Action Strategic Policy Committee where key local activists, NGO’s, the business and farming sector as well as lead experts can collaborate in implementing a shared and ambitious climate action plan will be essential. The opportunity exists now as we start a new five year cycle of local government and we are calling on Minister of State John Paul Phelan to direct all local authorities in the State to create an identical template to drive committed and courageous plans, interconnected regionally and in a wider EU context through initiatives such as Covenant of Mayors,” said Cllr Noonan.
He said that the four Climate Action Regional Offices (CAROs) were under resourced and would benefit from supporting structures at local county level.
“This in our view would create a whole of local government approach, share best practice and even healthy competition between local authorities to deliver on targets. Coupled with this, the role of local government must be expanded to provide micro financing for community owned renewable energy or even establish local energy supply companies, in their own right. We should have a more direct role in transportation and mobility policy other than maintenance of roads,” he said.
“Establishing Climate Action Strategic Policy Committees could be done within the framework of existing Local Government legislation but it should require a directive from the Minister to all Councils to do so.”
“It is my view that young people should be afforded a key and participative role in any such new structures given that they have led the school strikes for climate and that the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) should frame the work and actions of these new committees.”
“Successive ‘reforms’ of local government have sought to undermine community participation, the democratically elected role and the very function of local government. We are proposing the establishment of these Climate Action Committees as a means of empowering whole communities to lead and foster direct action in tackling climate change. We should be on climate emergency footing and an emergency requires an appropriate response. We urge the Minister to allow local government lead that response,” concluded Cllr Noonan.
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