The Government established a National Dialogue on Climate Action in 2017. The primary objectives of the National Dialogue are to engage and empower citizens and communities to take local action, to ensure an inclusive progress of engagement and feedback, and to develop the capacity for individuals and communities to act and bring about the transformation of our society to a low carbon and climate-resilient future.
A range of initiatives are taking place under the National Dialogue, which is being delivered by my Department and the EPA. These include regional gatherings, a climate action and awareness programme delivered by Green Schools, a special Tidy Towns Air Quality and Climate award, a climate lecture series delivered by the EPA, and support for the development of online and broadcast media content.
Two regional gatherings have taken place to date, in Athlone in June 2018 and in Tralee in November 2018. These were free, professionally facilitated workshop-style events, which sought to explore the specific challenges and opportunities involved in moving Ireland to a low-carbon, climate-resilient society in the regions concerned. Further details of each event, including a facilitator’s summary, is available on my Department’s website. I intend that further regional gatherings take place later in 2019, with a view to ensuring an even geographical spread of events throughout Ireland.
The Government’s Climate Action Plan, published last month, envisages that the National Dialogue on Climate Action will be further developed as a model of citizen engagement, deliberation and action on climate change, building on the process employed by the Citizens' Assembly. In particular, the National Dialogue has potential to drive action at community level, through harnessing existing networks and helping to build new ones, supporting better communication, and providing more focused deliberation leading to effective action.
As part of this wider dialogue, I am separately undertaking a series of nationwide consultative meetings, to explain the approach, hear views and take on ideas from members of the public on the implementation of the Climate Action Plan. The first of these events took place in University College Cork on 21 June and a second event will take place this coming Friday in Thurles, County Tipperary. This is a free event, which is open to members of the public, and details of the event have been advertised in local media. Further meetings are being planned for Galway, the Midlands, Dublin and Donegal before the end of July.