Under the Climate Action Plan 2019, a Climate Action Charter for Local Authorities was agreed between my Department and the Local Authorities. The then Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government was consulted as part of this process. The goal of the Charter is to ensure that every Local Authority embeds decarbonisation, sustainable development and climate resilience into all aspects of the work they do. The Charter acknowledges the need to take collective action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address the impacts of climate change, while also committing Local Authorities to being advocates for climate action. Under the Charter, Local Authorities will measure the carbon impact of activities and implement measures to reduce carbon emissions in line with national objectives, including a 50% improvement in energy efficiency by 2030.
In 2018, my Department entered into a five year financial commitment of €10 million to establish four Climate Action Regional Offices (CAROs). Mayo County Council is the lead authority for the Atlantic Seaboard North region, which also includes the Local Authorities for counties Mayo, Sligo, Donegal and Galway, as well as Galway City . My Department engages with all four CAROs on a regular basis, in particular through participation in the National Local Authority Climate Action Steering Group. Under the National Adaptation Framework, each Local Authority has developed a Local Adaptation Strategy. These strategies are now being implemented, and each CARO is working with the Local Authorities in its region to both facilitate and monitor implementation of the local climate adaptation actions within the strategies.
The Climate Action Bill further strengthens the role of Local Authorities in climate action. It sets out legislative requirements for each Local Authority to prepare a Climate Action Plan, which will include both mitigation and adaptation measures and be updated every five years. These plans will have to be consistent with national climate plans and strategies, and Local Authorities will have to liaise with each other in the preparation of these plans.
To build the necessary capacity, my Department is also funding and engaging with the CAROs in relation to the implementation of a new Local Authority climate action training programme. This programme is increasing knowledge of climate change and the need for action among all Local Authority staff, and will facilitate both climate mitigation and adaptation at local level.