Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Questions (76)

Thomas Pringle


76. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the position regarding the new climate action offices and the way in which they plan to interact with local communities to mitigate against climate change; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7472/18]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The National Adaptation Framework, which I launched in Sligo on 19 January 2018, sets out the context to ensure Local Authorities, regions and key sectors can assess the risks and vulnerabilities of climate change, implement climate resilience actions and ensure climate adaptation considerations are mainstreamed into all local, regional and national policy making.

As a key action under the Framework, I also announced a funding commitment from my Department of €10 million over 5 years to establish four Local Authority Regional Climate Action Offices. This commitment recognises the significant obligation which has been placed on Local Government to develop and implement its own climate action measures, as well as the need to build capacity within the sector to engage effectively with climate change.

The Regional Climate Action Offices will be operated by a lead Local Authority in four different regions grouped according to shared climate change risks. The establishment of these offices will enable a more coordinated engagement across the whole of government and will help build on the experience and expertise which exists across the sector.

Through these offices the Local Authorities can play a crucial role in driving practical policy and behavioural changes within our communities to encourage both businesses and citizens to embrace the need for climate action. In addition, I also see the Regional Climate Action Offices as having a key role in helping to facilitate the National Dialogue on Climate Action at both regional and local level. The regional structure being established can provide a leadership role through, for example, Public Participation Networks, community groups, Local Enterprise Offices and environmental awareness programmes, to advance informed discussions across all areas of the national climate agenda.

Local Authorities, through the regional structure, are also very well placed to help future-proof our cities, towns and counties as the global climate changes.  In this regard Local Government has a central role in implementing the new National Planning Framework and National Development Plan (through the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies), which will help set our communities on a more sustainable pathway over the coming decades so as to ensure we achieve a low carbon and climate resilient future.

My Department is currently engaging with the Local Government Management Agency and regional lead authorities to advance the process in terms of establishing this regional structure as efficiently and effectively as possible, while also ensuring that proper oversight and governance arrangements are put in place for the years to come.