The UN says we only have 10 years to avert catastrophic climate change. That is being driven by our C02 emissions, so we have to reduce those emissions as quickly as possible. The question is – how do we do that in Galway?
There has been no significant decrease in emissions despite the fact that we were to have cut them by 20% by 2020 and cutting through the political speak, the current proposals are no where near sufficient. We have also seen a massive reduction in wildlife in Ireland. The three biggest parties have had their manifestos looked at and received 1 out of 10 for their effort by environmentalist. These parties will cost us money, not save us money.
I’m proposing a Green New Deal for Galway where the way we build our economy is through doing the right thing for future generations with the focus on energy efficiency, transport, and investing in local amenities - that is Sustainability.
Change can be difficult to imagine, but it must happen and will take significant investment.
For example, the first step in this New Deal is to tackle energy efficiency – that means making sure our homes are properly insulated, buildings are switched over to low-power lighting and we use power-efficient appliances at home and work. Simple changes that will save us money through reduced heating and electricity costs as we use less resources.
In order to do this our costed budget is for the government to support 20,000 new apprenticeships who can deliver this retrofitting programme. The money is available from Europe for measures that tackle climate change. The Green Party’s policy of a “just transition” focuses on ensuring that those on lower incomes and in rural Ireland would have their needs prioritised.
Transport is the second and one of the most important elements for Galway. On the doors throughout Galway parents lament the fact that children can’t cycle safely to school or weekend activities. Children have a right to leave their homes without a fear of being knocked down and our proposal is for a cycling network around Galway, including Greenways.
We absolutely must change our investment policies and spend on cycling, walking and public transport. This will boost our economy in declining parts of the county and make everyone’s lives healthier. Currently 1% is being spent on cycling and we want to increase this to 10%. We also want to see rapid and frequent transit, bus shelters, digital displays and investment in rail, including light rail. This will make our region work better for investment. We can and must do this.
Investment in housing
My Green Deal proposes a model of housing where local government builds on public land which anyone can rent and enjoy long term secure tenancy. The investment is paid back through a rent that covers the building and maintenance costs and at a cost that person can afford. These homes will be cheaper to build because the state can access cheaper finance options. This is what the Green Party is implementing in other European countries and it is what we need to implement in Galway.
Critically for us, the type of planning in this city must change to a city-led sustainable approach rather than a developer led approach. It must be a transport, healthcare, and amenities first model so that we are building homes and communities not just roofs over peoples’ heads.
David Attenborough has shown us the worldwide impact of human activity on the planet. Here in Ireland, wildlife has contracted to such an extent that 80% of our swallow population is no longer migrating here. 30% of our bee species are endangered. We no longer see insects hitting our windscreens, because 80% of those insects are gone. We had 500 pristine rivers – now we have 20. Good clean water supplies are needed for industries from agriculture to pharmaceutical, and for our health.
We must also bring back wildlife to secure the future for food, and for the species that rely on us.
We are proposing Common Agricultural Policy reforms to support the family farm not the large agri-business model adopted by this government. It’s time to pay farmers to manage the land in the most effective way to achieve results for wildlife AND raise their income.
These are the Green Party’s proposals for a Galway where children can walk, cycle, or take a school bus, and where wildlife flourishes and we have a fair and just society.
They are strong, costed by experts, and will deal with the crisis. Time is running out. I’m thinking about the kind of world our children will have to inhabit. If you are worried about the climate crisis then you should vote for the party that will tackle it seriously.