Council says draft strategy on climate change will help streamline policy

July 12th, 2019 7:05 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Storm Eleanor (2018) in Bantry: Cork County Council is to draft a strategy on climate change. (Photo: Andy Gibson)

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CORK County Council will, for the first time, publish a draft climate change adaptation strategy which is designed to mainstream the issue of climate change in its plans, policies and operations.

The announcement was made last week at a meeting of the local authority, where councillors were told that the draft strategy would be launched on July 8th, which will be followed by a public consultation with a view to it being adopted by the end of September.

Director of environment services, Louis Duffy, said that the draft strategy is based on extensive review, research and stakeholder engagement.

‘Once adopted, the climate adaptation strategy will be the main instrument to achieve the over-arching commitment by Cork County Council towards a low carbon, climate resilient and sustainable environment,’ said Mr Duffy.

The report produced in-chamber, followed a motion put down by newly elected Green Party councillor Liam Quaide, who called on the local authority to establish a climate and biodiversity emergency committee.

Cllr Quaide said this committee, which could be made up of elected members and environmental experts, should meet within three months.

Their remit would include prioritising sustainable transport and energy, along with flood protection and pollution mitigation measures.

‘We have a duty as public representatives to look beyond this appearance of flourishing and heed the warning of scientists and to think more widely than five-year budgets in taking action,’ said Cllr Quaide. ‘Over the past year we have seen county councils and state agencies like Irish Rail and some individuals take a wrecking-ball approach to the management of trees. People have looked on in shock and dismay as trees are knocked down with pollinators dying out.’

Cllr Quaid added that radical action on the climate and biodiversity crisis should no longer be seen as a ‘fringe Green agenda.’

He added: ‘We need to be bold and ambitious in responding to this emergency.’

Cllr John O’Sullivan (FG) agreed that it is ‘an emergency.’

‘As a dairy farmer, I can see much of what he says is relevant and the reality is that we’ve got to change and adapt to the circumstances and give it due urgency it requires,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan.

Cobh-based Green Party councillor Alan O’Connor (GP) said his party by no means claims to hold a monopoly on green issues and that it was great to hear other councillors support the motion.

‘It’s in Cork’s best interests and in the public’s best interest to tackle the climate crisis now,’ said Cllr O’Connor.

County mayor Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan – who had outlined his green ambitions in his inaugural speech  last month – agreed that there is climate crisis and he said the response from the Council was encouraging.

Mr Duffy said that it would be wiser to consider the Council’s draft climate change strategy which comes before Council this month before making any firm decision on how the members might wish to proceed.

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