City desk

Council Plans to Cut Its Greenhouse Gas Emissions 40 Percent by 2030

Dublin City Council has set itself a goal of cutting its emissions of greenhouse gases by 40 percent by 2030, a draft report agreed by councillors says.

At their December monthly meeting, councillors backed the “Draft Climate Change Action Plan” – which Dubliners will get to weigh in on early next year, if all goes ahead.

The aim is to make the Dublin region safer in the future “by reducing the impact of future climate change-related events”, the 112-page report says.

It also sets goals of improving the council’s energy efficiency by 33 percent by 2020, and to “actively engage and inform” people living in the Dublin area about climate change, it says.

Bad and Worse Weather

The main risks facing the city are sea-level rises, flooding and extreme weather events, the report says.

The Dublin area has seen an increase in extreme weather events, a timeline in the report shows.

“It’s very evident, when you look at it in timeline form that the number of extreme events in the region have really increased at a significant rate, particularly over the past 15 years,” said Suzanne Fitzpatrick, communications manager with Dublin’s energy agency, Codema.

The report’s projections for the coming 30 years suggest that trend will continue, with “high confidence” of heat waves, dry spells, sea-level rises, high tides, and coastal and river flooding.

Codema have met with staff in the four local authorities over the last two years, one-to-one and in workshops to help draw up the plan, says Fitzpatrick.

What It Plans to Do

The plan takes in changes to council approaches in five areas: energy and buildings, transport, flood resilience, nature-based solutions, and resource management.

About 63 percent of the council’s overall energy consumption is down to its buildings and facilities, the report notes. Public lighting counts for 25 percent of the total energy consumption, and the council’s vehicles for 12 percent.

Reducing energy use through retrofitting council buildings and social homes is listed as a way to cut that. As is using more LED lighting for public lights, the report says.

The transport measures include many that have been spoken about before: beefing up bike-share schemes, putting in segregated cycleways and footpaths, and working with others “to improve bus routes”.

The report also talks about pedestrian zones around Liffey Street, Mary Street and Barnardo Square. And looking at possible traffic-free areas on Drury Street, South William Street, and others.

Dealing with flooding – as one of the biggest risks foreseen – gets a chunk of attention in the plan. The council lists flood-alleviation schemes for Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dollymount and the catchment areas of the Wad, the Poddle and the Camac rivers, to name a few.

In Dublin Bay, 300 square kilometres is a UNESCO biosphere. The four councils in the Dublin region have drawn up a joint action plan to protect native habitats and species. Also, they plan to collect data on habitats and species that are vulnerable to future effects of climate change, the report says.

Putting It Together

“It’s a good plan and it’s a very detailed plan,” says Green Party Councillor Claire Byrne, who helped draw up the plan as a member of the council’s environment committee “My own personal criticisms of it, are it really only deals with what Dublin City [Council] are responsible for.”

There are 2,810,880 tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted each year in Dublin city, according to figures from Codema, which based its calculations on 2016 census data.

Dublin City Council is directly responsible for a small amount of this, says Byrne. So others in the city – businesses and residents – have to be on board if carbon-dioxide emissions are to drop significantly for the city as a whole, she said.

At the recent monthly meeting, councillors welcomed the measures. “We can see how difficult it is to face up to this challenge,” said Fine Gael Councillor Paddy McCartan, of climate change, “where you have countries like the United States and China not even engaging in the process”.

“We must in our own way be prepared to take the initiative,” he said.

People Before Profit Councillor John Lyons said Ireland is second worst in the European Union right now at tackling climate change – with a nod to Off Target, the Climate Action Network’s report published in June. (The more recent Climate Change Performance Index 2019, released this week, ranked Ireland dead last among EU countries.)

Fitzpatrick of Codema says that tackling climate change must start locally. “It has to start with local communities and local neighbourhoods.”

Byrne says she agrees, and that’s something councillors have pushed for.

People will be asked what they think of the plan, Byrne said. There is launch penned in to the Mansion House diary in February, with an exhibition alongside it.

Fitzpatrick said a new website should go live at dublinclimatechange.ie in mid-January, so people can easily have their say.

Sean Finnan portrait
Sean Finnan

Sean Finnan is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer. You can reach him at sfinnan@dublininquirer.com.

 

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