Sinn Féin’s Darren O’Rourke TD and Senator Lynn Boylan have today published proposals to empower local communities in climate action.
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Climate Action, Darren O’Rourke TD, 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.
“Sinn Féin recognises that the transition must be inclusive and democratic if we are to bring people along the journey.
“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.
“To achieve this, Sinn Féin have put forward a number of proposals. They include increasing the resourcing of Sustainable Energy Communities (SEC) as well as the introduction of a new Local Energy Action Fund to ensure that community groups are supported to make changes that will benefit both their communities and the environment, from reducing energy use to increasing renewable energy production.
“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.
“Building from this, we want to raise the target of community and locally owned renewable energy projects to at least 10% of our renewable energy capacity. We would also double the funding allocated to them this year.
“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.
“We would increase funding specifically for the development of innovative initiatives in renewable generation and prioritise funding for those projects that benefit local communities and prioritise local engagement.
“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.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Climate Justice, Senator Lynn Boylan continued:
“We firmly believe it is essential to nurture the link between local communities, the environment and nature. To do this, we’ve proposed a dedicated fund for public parks and native woodlands.
“Not only would publicly accessible woodlands deliver significant benefits to people’s health and well-being, it also can help sequester carbon dioxide, enhance air quality and protect our biodiversity. It’s a win-win for climate and the environment. We would also place the National Biodiversity Centre on statutory footing, enhancing the ability of local community groups to participate and to contribute their expertise.
“Finally, we want to improve opportunities and supports for local communities to engage in efforts to address the crises in climate and biodiversity. In order to ensure that these local voices are heard and that they can effectively contribute to decision making processes, we would double the funding to the Irish Environmental Network this year.
“Our proposals on Community-Led Climate Action would help to unleash its untapped potential. 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.”
Sinn Féin’s ‘Empowering Communities in Climate Action’ proposals can be read here.