Cork City Council latest to declare climate and biodiversity emergency

June 11th, 2019

Cork City Council is the latest local authority to declare a climate change and biodiversity emergency.

The official recognition of a climate crisis follows a motion proposed by newly elected Green Party councillors that also calls for the foundation of a Climate Action Committee.

The Committee will consist of elected members of the Council who will meet with civil society groups to discuss the likes of transport, energy and flood protection measures.

The motion also obliges the Council’s chief executive to prepare a new trees and biodiversity policy that will go before the Council for approval within a six-months timeframe.

Speaking to The Green News, Councillor Oliver Moran said that his party is committed to ensuring that the call for an emergency will be practical and not just “a gestured declaration”.

“Simply declaring a climate and biodiversity emergency and slapping yourself on [the] back for doing so is no good for anyone,” he said. “It’s critical that everyone involved recognises this as genuine emergency needing practical action.”

The Council joins several other local bodies in declaring a climate crisis including Wicklow and others in the Dublin area.

Earlier in May, the Dail declared a climate and biodiversity emergency, one of the key demands of both the student strikers and Extinction Rebellion Ireland.

Some climate activists have since criticised the move as “meaningless” without appropriate action and the execution of radical environmental policies to complement it. 

Saoi O’Connor, Cork’s most prominent teenage climate activist recently told The Green News that “anyone can declare an emergency [but] unless you take some action to avert this crisis, it doesn’t mean anything”.

Mr Moran said that the Climate Action Committee will play a big role in ensuring substantial change in the city, as well as fostering cooperation between councillors and climate activists.

Mr Moran said that the new, green voices in the Council are determined to promote transparency, adding that he has witnessed exemplary cooperation from other parties for their green initiative.

“That’s why our voices are there. It’s why I think other parties are giving us space to have a genuine effect on the Council,” he said.

The motion also calls for a six-month deadline for the Council to bring in a more progressive tree-care policy. Mr Moran criticised the Council’s lack of transparency about its current policy, adding that he has raised the issue with the chief executive.

The Council recently told  The Irish Examiner that there would be a €3,000 fee to cover the cost of staff work to collate documents requested under Freedom of Information regulations about current tree-felling policy.

Mr Moran expressed hope that environmental activists could also “have a large say” in drafting the new tree-felling policy.

About the Author

Shamim Malekmian

Shamim is a Senior Reporter at The Green News and a contributing writer to the Irish Examiner, Cork Evening Echo and the Dublin Inquirer.