OPINION: How our communities can lead on climate action

by Rebecca Ryan
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Catherine Martin TD:

12 years.

That is the time that we have been given to stop the worst effects of climate change.

Already we are experiencing the consequences of increased carbon emissions, habitat destruction, and warmer oceans.

Here in Ireland we have seen a hurricane, a blizzard and a prolonged drought in the course of 18 months – and our country famed for its mild climate.

Awareness is growing about the challenges of climate change and environmental degradation.

Blue Planet’s clips showing plastics in the stomachs of animals went viral. Stories about dying bees and insects – as a result of both extreme weather and habitat loss – are appearing everywhere.

All of this can seem overwhelming. You might wonder what we as individuals can do to prevent plastics entering our seas or temperatures rising to deadly levels. It can all feel like it is too late to do anything. But it’s not. While we have crossed some lines in terms of climate change, there is still so much we can prevent, and manage, at the same time, to create a fairer, greener future for our children. The future is not set in stone

so long as we act, and act quickly. We must act together – our communities can work together to put climate action at the heart of the political agenda.

For that to happen, politicians must be made to see that climate action is a voter priority.

From investing in public and mobile transport to retrofitting houses to resourcing clean energy options, the power rests with politicians.

This is a responsibility we place in their hands and a power that we can shape for the better.

Our communities can also take the lead and be the change we want to see. Across the country communities are already doing this.

Tidy Towns groups are creating habitats to support and renew our declining insect population.

The Zero Waste community shares tips with each other on how to reduce household and personal waste on a budget.

Locally we see how Imagine Dundrum has developed a sustainable, environmental vision for Dundrum’s future which has community at its core.

The changes necessary for effective climate action will see long term benefits.

Moving away from car use will not only see increased health benefits but will also make our streets safer and our air cleaner.

Ending the production of single use plastics will see a reduction in our household waste. Retrofitting houses will make our homes more energy efficient and reduce our heating bills.

Now is the time to stand up as communities. While there is so much at stake, there is also so much to gain if we become leaders in climate action.


Catherine will be holding a public meeting “Working Together – Climate Action” at 7:30 on Thursday the 31st of January in The Goat Bar, Goatstown.

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