Green Party representative for Dublin Fingal Joe O’Brien has asked Fingal County Council to make specific efforts to consult with schools across Fingal in the development of the county’s first Climate Action Plan. Speaking after the launch of the consultation process which will last until March 25th, Mr. O’Brien stated that:
I very much welcome the publication of the draft plan. The big messages that we want to get out to people across Fingal is that firstly the actions required to tackle climate change will improve our everyday lives too – better public transport, more energy efficiency and localised energy generation, a proper cycleway network, flood defences, better prevention and management of waste.
Secondly, we need widespread engagement and people suggesting specific actions to Fingal County Council and highlighting the most important ones outlined in the draft strategy.
There are a number of towns and sectors in Fingal that are particularly impacted by climate change. There are a lot of food growers for example who are struggling to deal with a less predictable climate and more extreme weather events and the draft strategy has identified Sutton, Baldoyle, Portmarnock, Malahide, Portrane and Skerries as particularly vulnerable to sea level rise.
The draft plan is a good start as it looks at a range of areas and there are some specific proposed actions with timelines and responsible units of Fingal County Council. However, it does need to be invigorated by widespread public engagement. It is to be welcomed that there are several public meetings being held across the county on the strategy, but I think the Council should take some more proactive efforts in engaging the huge public energy there is to tackle climate change.
I have asked Fingal to include a targeted consultation process with schools across the county. In my experience our children are better informed on the issue and more aware of the implications of climate change. They are of course also those who have done the least damage but will be impacted upon the most in the long term. Primarily though it is the energy, fresh thinking and innovation that young people bring that is needed most and will benefit this draft strategy.
For a strategy that is generally quite comprehensive there is a very curious gaping hole in it. There is zero mention of Dublin Airport. At the very least we should be measuring the impact of the flights in and out of Dublin airport on our climate but also looking at ways at reducing the significant negative impact of air travel. Obviously, Fingal County Council is huge supporter and beneficiary of the airport and it is of course a huge source of business and employment in the county. But this doesn’t mean we have to stick our heads in the sand in relation to its negative impact. It is this approach to climate change at a global level that has got us into this urgent situation we find ourselves in. Seeing as it is a draft plan I do hope that the impact of the airport is considered in the final version.