John O’Neill (Ireland) 1; Seosamh Ó Laoi (Ireland) 1
1 - Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
Engaging communities on climate action is accepted as a key challenge for administrations seeking to transition to low-carbon, climate-resilient economies. In 2015 Ireland’s Energy White Paper, proposed a National Energy Forum which aimed to maximise consensus on the policy measures needed to decarbonise Ireland. Shortly after the White Paper’s publication the Government approved Ireland’s first climate change legislation and accordingly turned its attention to a broader dialogue on climate action, incorporating the energy debate.
In 2017 the Government formally established a National Dialogue on Climate Action (NDCA) to provide for an inclusive process of consensus-building across society on enabling the transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient future. In 2018 Ireland’s first statutory National Adaptation Framework was published which emphasised the role everybody has to play in ensuring Ireland takes appropriate action to achieve climate resilience.
The main objective of the NDCA is to create awareness, engagement and motivation to act locally, regionally and nationally. Such actions look to address the challenges presented by climate change by establishing appropriate long-term regional and local networks for people to consider evidence-based inputs on the economic, social, behavioural, environmental aspects of a climate-related transition.
In parallel, the Government established a Citizens’ Assembly comprising a Chairperson and 99 citizens randomly selected to be broadly representative of the Irish electorate, to consider some of the most important issues facing Ireland’s future. One of the topics identified was ‘How the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change’. The Assembly met in 2017 to deliberate on the topic, with its Final Report and Recommendations now being considered by a parliamentary Committee on Climate Action. In addition the Department with responsibility for Climate Action considered the potential role of a climate information platform in providing adaptation relevant information to the general public.
The processes described have generated a significant amount of interest in the climate debate in Ireland however it has also created a complex environment in which to operate insofar as being able to conduct a coherent and coordinated dialogue on climate action while managing the expectations of the stakeholders concerned.
This paper will describe how communities are being engaged on climate action in Ireland, the challenges for policymakers in ensuring that broader society can contribute effectively to ensuring a climate-resilient future and how to ensure that the requirements of climate adaptation are considered in the overall public debate around a low-carbon, climate-resilient transition.