Roscommon latest county to declare climate emergency

Published by Kayle Crosson on

June 27th, 2019

Roscommon County Council unanimously declared a climate change and biodiversity emergency earlier this week.

The Midlands county joins regional councils and the national Government in its declaration on Monday.

Last month, the Dail declared a climate and biodiversity emergency, one of the key demands of both the student strikers and Extinction Rebellion. 

The Roscommon motion was proposed by Independent Councillor Donal Kilduff and seconded by Fianna Fail Councillor Orla Leyden. The motion was submitted on behalf of the County Council’s Alliance group, comprised of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Independent councillors.

“At present, the Roscommon Climate Change Adaptation Strategy is out for public consultation and I would encourage people to make submissions,” Cllr Leyden told The Green News. 

“However, an Adaptation strategy is limited in that adaptation involves taking action so that we can be more resilient to our current climate. 

“This is why we also need a Climate Change and Biodiversity Emergency Action Plan, a mitigation plan, to limit the man-made causes of climate change,” she continued.

The draft of Roscommon’s Adaptation Strategy lays out a five-year roadmap for how the county will address climate change and follows the provisions laid out in the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015 and the 2018 National Adaptation Framework. 

The effects of climate change, the draft finds, are already significantly impacting the county and “are very likely to increase in their frequency and intensity”.

Roscommon has a particular vulnerability to extreme rainfall, strong wind, and high and low temperatures, the document goes on to state. 

Such climate events would bring particular risks to areas such as infrastructure, health and safety, duty of care, and the local economy. 

Declaring an emergency and taking action would allow Roscommon to lead by example, according to Cllr Kilduff. 

“We need to be responsible for our own actions here, and there’s no reason why Roscommon can’t be a leader and why Ireland can’t be a leader globally on this issue,” he said during a Council meeting on Monday.

During a visit last month to Ireland, European Commission Director-General for Climate Action Mauro Petriccione found climate emergency delcarations to be a “crucial” step forward in addressing climate change. 

However, despite the launch of the Government’s Climate Action Plan last week, Ireland remains substantially off-track in meeting its 2020 EU emissions’ target reduction. 

In May, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland announced that the country’s recent reduction in energy emissions will not suffice in meeting next year’s target. 

The authority’s National Projections Report forecasts that 13 per cent of Ireland’s energy will come from renewable sources by 2020, three per cent short of our European target of 16 per cent.

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Kayle Crosson

Kayle is a multimedia journalist focused on climate and environmental issues and contributes to The Irish Times and The Green News.