On Friday 5th July, we had a very successful public meeting on Kildare County Council’s climate adaptation strategy. Hosted by Ciara Galvin and myself, it was an active session of information sharing and questions to the Council represented by Director of Services, Joe Boland.
The evening started with a presentation, in which I summarised the action plan. Quite a tricky job given there are 108 actions, but these were synopsised into summary sheets which were distributed to help with discussion and in developing submissions. Thanks to Treasa Keegan for the video and audio expertise. You can watch the video and comment on the Celbridge Politics Facebook page. Please join as it has a wealth of political conversation on issues affecting Celbridge and the wider area.
The Q&A with Joe Boland was hosted by Ciara. The discussion and questions were deeply informed by expertise and a wide range of experience of participants, and there was huge interest in getting a deeper understanding of KCC’s plans around climate mitigation and adaptation. Joe Boland fielded a lot of questions very well. An interesting aspect of the discussion was the amount of unknowns and uncertainty in this field, and what that means for planning for adaptation.
Questions included: what are Kildare’s most significant source of emissions; how can we ensure that all policy instruments are aligned towards adaptation so there is no conflict; how will we know if adaptation plans are successful – what are the KPIs; what scenario(s) are we preparing to adapt to; what is the status of a mitigation plan in KCC; how can we prepare now for the housing implications of climate refugees; how can we mitigate or adapt when we currently have no way of measuring carbon emissions. Not all questions had clear answers however the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy has an action on developing a methodology for measuring emissions; and KPIs on adaptation can be drawn from the guidelines and reporting processes of the Covenant of Mayors to which Kildare County Council will be signing up on the 30th of Sept this year.
There were also comments about the approach to flood management in the strategy with a participant urging KCC to do more upstream flood prevention work. A further discussion ensued around the role of community. It was felt that the community aspect was not prioritised enough in the strategy, nor was it specific enough.
While the meeting was intended to include a round-table session on developing ideas for submissions, participants wished to continue the Q&A session. A key take-away from the meeting was the enormous benefit in having open conversations, particularly on complex issues such as climate adaptation. It not only gives the opportunity to access information, build awareness and understanding in an accessible way, but also highlights the immense challenge of uncertainty around future climate impacts. In this context it is essential that we set out an ambitious scenario for adaptation and state this clearly in the strategy.
A further take-away was the need for a change to the way issues and are communicated by Council. This had been a difficult consultation to engage with – a strategy with many actions without a budget or information on the prioritisation of actions. KCC, upon request, issued a terms of reference with questions to help support engagement which was very helpful. It was also felt that summaries or videos explaining consultation issues in plain language in an accessible way, was important to help communities understanding and engage.
No doubt there will have been many submissions on the strategy. Given the huge engagement on Friday night, these will not only include the wealth of knowledge and ideas within communities around adaptation, but also the immense shared concern for immediate and accelerated action to radically reduce carbon emissions. The meeting concluded with a firm endorsement of further meetings to work together on community actions around mitigation.
The Green Party is working, with partners, to call for and support Kildare County Council to immediately develop of a climate mitigation strategy for Kildare.