June 11th, 2019
Cork City Council is the latest local authority to declare a climate change and biodiversity emergency.
The official recognition of a
climate crisis follows a motion proposed by newly elected Green Party
councillors that also calls for the foundation of a Climate Action Committee.
The Committee will consist of
elected members of the Council who will meet with civil society groups to discuss
the likes of transport, energy and flood protection measures.
The motion also obliges the Council’s
chief executive to prepare a new trees and biodiversity policy that will go
before the Council for approval within a six-months timeframe.
Speaking to The Green News, Councillor
Oliver Moran said that his party is committed to ensuring that the call for an
emergency will be practical and not just “a gestured declaration”.
“Simply declaring a climate and
biodiversity emergency and slapping yourself on [the] back for doing so is no
good for anyone,” he said. “It’s critical that everyone involved
recognises this as genuine emergency needing practical action.”
The Council joins several other local bodies in declaring a climate crisis including Wicklow and others in the Dublin area.
Earlier in May, the Dail declared a climate and biodiversity emergency, one of the key demands of both the student strikers and
Extinction Rebellion Ireland.
Some climate activists have
since criticised the move as
“meaningless” without appropriate action and the execution of radical
environmental policies to complement it.
Saoi O’Connor, Cork’s most prominent
teenage climate activist recently told The Green News that “anyone
can declare an emergency [but] unless you take some action to avert this
crisis, it doesn’t mean anything”.
Mr Moran said that the Climate
Action Committee will play a big role in ensuring substantial change in the
city, as well as fostering cooperation between councillors and climate activists.
Mr Moran said that the new, green voices
in the Council are determined to promote transparency, adding that he has
witnessed exemplary cooperation from other parties for their green initiative.
“That’s why our voices are
there. It’s why I think other parties are giving us space to have a genuine
effect on the Council,” he said.
The motion also calls for a
six-month deadline for the Council to bring in a more progressive tree-care policy.
Mr Moran criticised the Council’s lack of transparency about its current policy,
adding that he has raised the issue with the chief executive.
The Council recently told The Irish Examiner that there would be a €3,000 fee to cover the cost of staff work to collate documents requested under Freedom of Information regulations about current tree-felling policy.
Mr Moran expressed hope that environmental activists could also “have a large say” in drafting the new tree-felling policy.
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