Cork city officials launching the Draft Climate Action Plan in November 2023. Photo: John Allen

‘Business as usual is no longer enough’

A plan to reduce, or mitigate, greenhouse gas emissions on Leeside was given the green light last night.

Cork City Councillors voted to adopt the city’s Local Authority Climate Action Plan at last night’s full council meeting. This is the final stage in the formal adoption of the Climate Action Plan, which will now see, City Hall has said, a increased implementation of positive climate actions throughout the city.

The process of drafting the plan began last year with consultation with young people and children, community groups, businesses, public sector staff, and councillors, to find out what people in the city wanted to see in the Climate Action Plan.

As an initial step, the recently established Climate Action Unit assessed the city’s climate risks and gathered baseline emissions data. At the same time, the unit commissioned several environmental reports and sought to gather feedback from city residents through statistically significant independent research. This all fed into the development of the Draft Climate Action Plan, and a public consultation on the Draft Plan launched in November 2023.

Some of the key actions planned are:

•€1.9 billion for housing which will see the provision of high-quality homes with a minimum BER rating of A2. This will see us support housing provision and climate goals.

•€190 million on Cork Docklands which will create a new liveable, walkable, and welcoming community right in the city centre.

•€134 million on walking and cycling facilities including Marina Promenade upgrade and the implementation of the Marina Park Phase 2 project, which will support active travel and improve access to green and blue infrastructure for residents and visitors alike.

•Establish a community leadership development programme to build the knowledge, confidence, and capacity of community groups to initiate local climate action.

•€5.5m allocated to start the design and planning phase of the Northwest Regional Park, including the appointment of a multi-disciplinary design team.

Cork City Council said it received 72 submissions from residents, community groups and businesses as well as regional and national bodies.

Overall, the submissions were positive with respondents asking for an increase in pace on the proposed actions. The submissions prompted nine new actions and seven strengthened actions in the now revised plan.

Chief Executive, Ann Doherty said: “We are in the moonshot decade for positive climate action. We know people throughout the city want more, and it is the responsibility of everyone, at every level, to act and make this desire a reality. The results from the Behaviour and Attitudes survey conducted during the formulation of this Climate Action Plan speak for themselves.

“Nearly two-thirds of people want Cork to become a more sustainable place to live and work, 86 per cent wanted more pedestrianised streets and 92 per cent want more parks, biodiversity, and green spaces. We have a mandate to innovate, and we need to listen to and mobilise the entire city together in action.”

Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Kieran McCarthy said: “This is the first such plan produced for the city. It is unique in combining actions to reduce, or mitigate, greenhouse gas emissions, and to adapt to the climate changes that are already inevitable due to past emissions.

“It is our direct response to the climate and biodiversity emergency in the city that we declared in 2019. As a city, we are also demonstrating our ambition by actively participating in the EU 100 Climate-Neutral & Smart Cities Mission to accelerate our journey to climate neutrality and place Cork at the forefront of climate action.”

The Lord Mayor continued: “This is not just about our planet or our great-grandchildren. Acting on climate change will cause positive impact on our health, wealth, and well-being now. As I said in the foreword to the Climate Action Plan, this is not the work of the council alone. To succeed we must all work together. Business as usual is no longer enough.

"Radical collaboration is needed. Some actions are already underway, but we must now work together, adopting this plan and enabling the people of Cork to develop and implement solutions that work for us”.