April 2, 2024
Sinn Féin believe empowered communities are at the heart of climate action and a just transition – Darren O’Rourke TD and Senator Lynn Boylan

Darren O’Rourke TD and Senator Lynn Boylan today visited Bohemian FC to learn more about community-led climate action taking place at the club which aims not only to tackle the climate crisis but simultaneously empowers communities and builds wealth locally.

Commenting on the pioneering work being delivered, Teachta O’Rourke said:

“The transition to a carbon neutral society will require radical change, not just technologically but socially too. We need to support communities in developing and recognising their hopes and aspirations for a sustainable future. We must empower them to be the authors of this change, rather than feeling like they have been left behind.

“The innovative work at Bohemians is in many ways pioneering and should be understood as a model from which others can learn and emulate. It represents a dynamic shift in the discourse surrounding climate action. Bohs’ approach to community is all about direct consultation and learning from diverse perspectives on various climate-related policies and actions.

“With Bohs’ approach, rather than being the almost exclusive domain of environmental activists and policy circles, climate action shifts into the everyday lived realities of ordinary people through trusted community spaces like sports clubs.

“We know that these types of hyper-localised, bottom-up and co-produced solutions have proven to be the most successful when solving seemingly intractable problems like climate change.

“This type of approach mirrors Sinn Féin’s own belief which recognises that the transition to net zero must be inclusive and democratic in order to bring people with us, and that there must be tangible benefits for them along the way.

“Done the right way, with a genuine bottom-up approach, not only will community engagement help make the transition fair and democratic, but it will make it fast too. This is key to a just transition.

“Despite the potential that exists in this sphere, there remain significant barriers to realising it fully. For example, funding is both insufficient and inaccessible. Moreover, there are significant administrative barriers and bureaucratic red-tape which prevent communities from ever even attempting to set up a project, never mind building a successful one.

“There are solutions, however. For example, the legislation on cooperative societies is totally out of date. The Cooperative Societies Bill has the potential to change but only if it is actually brought into law rather than sitting in legislative limbo as it has done for years now.

“Sinn Féin has a host of other proposals to empower communities in climate action. From a target of 10% of renewable energy to be locally owned to the development of innovative initiatives in renewable generation locally. This is because we firmly believe that benefits derived from Ireland’s energy transition should be shared equitably, rather than concentrated in the hands of a few.”

Senator Boylan went on to comment:

“We know that the climate and economic crises are deeply interlinked. In order to build an economic model that is both fairer and more sustainable, we would establish a Community Wealth Building Fund and a Workers Co-operative Development Unit. These initiatives will empower ordinary families, workers and communities to control their own economic development, to ensure that wealth is added to their communities rather than simply extracted.

“Furthermore, rather than paying lip service to a just transition like the current government has, we would establish a Just Transition Commission. This would bring together workers, communities, employers, and government in social dialogue to drive the concrete plans, policies and investments needed for a fast and fair transformation to a low carbon economy.

“Moreover, the government is preventing communities from drawing down EU money effectively. Funds that could be delivering climate action in local communities across the country are being left on the pitch. The government decision puts us in the minority of countries that declined to opt into the EU’s Community-Led Local Development multi-fund model. This funding is delegated to local partnerships and brings together the private sector, local authorities and civil society organisations and has the potential to be transformative as it has been in many other EU states.

“Our proposals on Community-Led Climate Action which echo the work being done at Bohs would help to unleash the untapped potential of bottom-up, hyper-local and co-produced solutions. We believe that bottom-up approaches are critical to reaching our climate targets. They are also crucial for the delivery of tangible benefits for local communities, their economies and the environment. This is a necessary complement to state-led climate action.”

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