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New Report Provides First National Picture of Local Authority Climate Actions

All local authorities to develop new climate action plans as 28,000 employees to be trained in climate action

A new report launched today (Tuesday 14 January 2020) outlines for the first time the range of actions local authorities have undertaken nationally to tackle climate change and to promote climate action within their communities.

The research, carried out by the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) on behalf of the County and City Management Association (CCMA) has found that half of all local authorities will achieve energy savings beyond their 2030 targets and have invested more than €120m in energy efficiency projects, preventing more than 60,000 tonnes of CO2 from being produced.

Outside of energy efficiency, the local government sector has also been proactive in areas including sustainable transport development, flood risk management, water conservation, waste management, nature-based solutions and public engagement.

The actions outlined in A Profile of Local Government Climate Actions in Ireland were undertaken in the period 2011-2018, ahead of the sector being named as a key driver of change under the National Climate Action Plan and each council signing up to a Climate Action Charter last year.

Future climate plans and training

The recently published Heads of Climate Action (Amendment) Bill requires all local authorities to prepare individual climate action plans outlining the mitigation and adaptation measures the authority intends to adopt.

The research released today shows councils are poised to meet that obligation, according to Paddy Mahon Chair of the CCMA Environment Committee, “Local authorities have been taking measures to reduce emissions and to position the sector to lead in the response to the climate crisis. We have extensive expertise and we plan to build on that now by training all 28,000 members of staff in climate action. This will involve technical training as well as training in leadership, community engagement and behavioural change.  That is a measure of very wide view we’re taking and the scale of ambition we have.”

Dr Bernie O’Donoghue Hynes, LGMA Head of Research pointed out that the report provides a snapshot in time that allows for local authorities to learn from each other and to recognise where additional action might be taken, “The research shows that local authorities have been taking a proactive approach to climate and environmental sustainability for some time, prioritising the needs of their areas and basing their response on prevailing risks in their jurisdictions. The research shows what has been done and serves as an important reference for local authorities to examine what can be done,”

  • 15 local authorities reported that they are on course to exceed their 2020 target of 33% energy efficiency.
  • Between 2011 and 2017, 20 local authorities invested €120m in energy efficiency projects preventing more than 60,000 tonnes of CO2 from being produced – the equivalent emissions produced by 11,000 Irish homes annually.
  • All local authorities have mandated the use of LED lighting in new public lighting installations and 30 local authorities have converted some public lighting to LED energy efficient bulbs.
  • In addition, the National Public Lighting Upgrade Project will see the upgrading of 280,000 lights to energy efficient LED and is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 31,000 tonnes annually.
  • 20 local authorities have piloted or are in the process of piloting Nearly Zero Energy Buildings in their social housing.

Further details of the research findings are available in the notes.

 

Notes

Full reports

The full research report and a summary report are available at:

Summary report: https://www.lgma.ie/en/publications/local-authority-sector-reports/global-issue-local-response-local-authorities-working-on-climate.pdf

Full Report: https://www.lgma.ie/en/publications/local-authority-sector-reports/a-profile-of-local-government-climate-actions-in-ireland.pdf

Key findings

All local authorities have reported innovative initiatives in the area of climate change. Key findings across the range of local authority actions in the period 2011-2018 include those outlined below.  

Energy efficiency

Transport

  • Fifteen local authorities have electric or hybrid vehicles in their own fleet.
  • More than 260 electric vehicle charging points for the public were available on local authority property at 2018 year end. With recently announced Department of Climte Action funding, local authorities will install 1,000 new EV charging points across the country over the next five years.
  • Cycling infrastructure continues to expand across local authorities, with approximately 14,000 bicycling parking spaces installed by the local authority sector nationally and more than 1,500km of segregated cycle lanes and 1,600km of integrated cycle lanes across local authorities at 2018 year end.

Flood risk and response

  • Between 2014 and 2018, 21 local authorities activated flood emergency response plans on 82 occasions.
  • In responding to weather emergencies, councils spent a combined total of €101 million between 2014 and 2018 on areas such as clean-up, road repair and disaster recovery.
  • Local authorities collaborated with the Office of Public Works on 21 major flood defence schemes and delivered a further 228 smaller flood defence schemes between 2014 and 2018, with local authorities investing approximately €12.4 million of funding towards flood defences.

Water resources

  • Fourteen local authorities reported that they measure water use in local authority buildings. A further five local authorities were in the process of doing so.
  • Eight local authorities reported that water conservation measures were implemented in their social housing.
  • Fifteen local authorities reported that they rolled-out water conservation initiatives to the public.
  • Local authorities intervened on more than 300 occasions between 2014 and 2018 to provide drinking water supplies to residents following extreme weather events because of poor water quality or damaged water infrastructure.

Waste management

  • 19 local authorities monitor the waste generated in council operated buildings.
  • Recycling rates across individual local authorities reached in excess of 85% during 2017/2018.
  • Collectively, local authorities operate 900 bring centres / civic amenity sites.
  • Local authorities delivered more than 600 initiatives in 2017 and 2018 aimed at discouraging dumping or littering.


Nature based solutions

  • Local authorities planted approximately 74,000 trees between 2017-2018 and implemented a significant number of nature-based policies with specific climate actions and have developed policies to deal with invasive alien species, managing trees and urban woodlands, developing green infrastructure and public open spaces and parks, and reducing pesticide usage.
  • Alternative weed control methods to herbicides have been trialled across 18 local authorities.
  • Eight local authorities have incorporated, and four are in the process of incorporating, green roofs in council buildings as part of new buildings or building upgrades.

Public engagement

  • Local authorities provided over 2,400 allotments and 97 community gardens for public use in 2018.
  • Local authorities supported 884 towns and neighbourhoods in 2018 through the Tidy Towns programme, many of which undertook specific climate actions such as increasing biodiversity and tree planting.
  • Local authorities are also training employees, communities and social housing residents to reduce their climate change impact and save energy as part of the sector’s commitment to encourage public action.


Ends

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