KILDARE took two giant ecological steps recently when the county council declared a ‘climate emergency’ and formally adopted its Climate Adaptation Strategy (CAS).
Indeed, as an indication of how serious the council is taking the threat of climate change, almost half 5/12) of the items on the council agenda were climate-related and ironically, it was the motion of the councillor (Naoise O’Cearúil) who had to dash early to collect his car from a garage that was adopted to declare the emergency.
“By doing this we’re not just paying lip service, but we’re going to start to make decisions that are climate-proofed,” he said.
“Wicklow and the Dáil have declared climate emergency…the public need to have their voice on this…and we want to get the expertise of the community,” he added.
‘When a new fleet [of vouncil vans] is being tendered for it should be electric,” he offered as an example.
Earlier, during the presentation on the county’s Climate Strategy the meeting was given a very good example that this was already in progress.
Regional co-ordinator of the Strategy Alan Dunney revealed that Kildare is currently at just 20% of its energy efficiency target to date, but said this would rise to 33 per cent once the “silver bullet” of LED street lighting was fully implemented across the county.
“We are starting to get honourable on the issuje,” said Cllr Padraig McEvoy.
“The young people, they get it,” offered Cllr Fiona McLoughlin Healy.
Cllr Ciara Galvin hoped the move wasn’t too late, and quoted Swedish activikst Greta Thun berg: “Our house is burning down, and we are asking people what to do with the smouldering ruins rather than how to put out the fire”.
However Green councillor Peter Hamilton felt “this is laudable, a great symbolic change” but also cautioned “this is the tip of the iceberg”.
His party colleague Vincent P.Martin felt the move was “very late in the day” but said “hope springs eternal”.
Cllr Fintan Brett wanted to welcome some concerned young citizens in the public gallery called “There’s no Planet B” from 4TH class in Naas.
“They gave a presentation to us in the library recently, and it was embarrassing how much they knew,” he said.
Cllr Ivan Keatley felt the motion was “a bit sketchy with budgeting,” but this was addressed by Joe Boland who had earlier introduced the strategy presentation on behalf of the Executive.
“We have flagged in the plan what’s budgeted. There are a number of variables, but we’ll do our best,’ he said.
“The actions and approach currently being taken by the council summarises its commitment to the significant challenges at hand,” he continued.
“It is accepted that there is a need for urgent action, an increased impetus and that there are greater challenges coming down the line. In this context, the attention of the members is drawn, in particular, to the governance section of the draft adaptation plan,” he said.
He also referred to one of the other greening motions that day – Cllr Suzanne Doyle’s suggestion for a dedicated Climate Strategic Policy Committee (SPC).
“The suggestion of establishing a dedicated SPC to better co-ordinate policy inputs would likely add value to these matters as well as to ongoing initiatives and can be considered by the members.
“Members are advised that the current SPC scheme is due to be reviewed this year. It is fully accepted that there is considerable urgency to these matters,” he concluded.