Galway city should aim to become a carbon neutral city by 2025 - a quarter of a century ahead of when the State plans to reach such a goal.
Fianna Fáil Galway City East councillor Alan Cheevers said that the Galway City Council should “lead by example” and aim to become carbon neutral ahead of the rest of the Republic.
Late last year, the Government published new climate laws which committed the State to net-zero carbon emissions within the next 30 years. In March, the coalition published a revised edition of the Climate Action Bill, which commits to Ireland becoming carbon neutral by no later than 2050.
The proposed legislation includes targets that would reduce carbon emissions over the next three decades, through five-year ‘carbon budgets’ and a 51 per cent reduction in 2018-level carbon emissions by 2030. It is planned to achieve this through targeting the transport sector and industry, and increasing reliance on renewable energy.
In order to achieve the date of 2025, the Galway City Council will have to adopt even more ambitious measures, and develop a city-wide plan for achieving such goals. However, Cllr Cheevers said it is imperative this is done.
“The changes in our climate are very real and are changing almost every aspect of Irish life,” he said. “If we don’t make proactive changes this may damage Galway and our climate for generations to come.”
2050 - too late?
There are concerns that the date of 2050 will be too late. On Monday, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a “code red for humanity” report on catastrophic climate breakdown caused by human activity.
Based on a study of 14,000 scientific reports, it says human-caused warming is “already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe’. The report estimates that we will reach the “dangerous level” of 1.5C of warming by 2034, and possibly earlier.
Cllr Cheevers [pictured above] called it a “damning report”. As a result he has called on the local authority to set ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions by 2025 by moving to electric or biofuel vehicles. He also called on the council to “lead by example in promoting renewable energy”, by installing solar panels on City Hall.
He has also called for a community lead hydro electric generator on waterways in the city, and for the council to publish an annual breakdown of carbon savings for each year. “The city council should look toward Department of the Environment funding to progress these climate action policies,” he said.
People Before Profit Galway has also reacted to the IPCC report, saying its findings are “alarming”. PBP has also put forward its own Climate Emergency Measures Bill
“Real climate action would create tens of thousands of green and care jobs to ensure a rapid and just transition to a zero-carbon economy,” said PBP Galway representative, Adrian Curran [pictured above], “by building and retrofitting homes, rewetting bogs, planting forests, teaching children and caring for patients.”