Saidhbh Brannigan investigates the funding of the Climate Action Regional Office and what this means for nationwide climate action.
“Climate is a serious threat to Ireland and its people”, stated Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan. He is unveiling his new agreement to provide a total funding of 12 million for Climate Action Regional Offices (CARO) to tackle the continuous crisis of Climate Change in Ireland. Minister Ryan provides the Dublin Metropolitan Region CARO a total of 2.97 million over the next six years to support the upkeep of widespread climate action and policy across Dublin County.
Established in 2018, CAROs play a crucial role in assisting local authorities, like the Dublin City Council (DCC), by providing guidance on climate policies and encouraging behavioural changes to drive transformative climate action focusing on areas such as transportation, biodiversity, and coastal erosion prevention. There are four CAROs for each region, all of which have a primary focus on different types of flooding and dangerous water levels, each having a unique focus specific to the area: the Atlantic Seaboard North CARO on coastal flooding and storms, the Eastern and Midlands CARO on groundwater flooding, the Atlantic Seaboard South CARO on sea level rise and the Dublin Metropolitan CARO having a unique focus on urban freezing and urban heatwaves.
CAROs serve as a valuable support system for local authorities tasked with planning and implementing Local Authority Climate Action Plans, as mandated by the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2021.
The current climate action plans will be revised and will conclude in 2024. The newly allocated funding will guide the development of new Action Plans for 2024 to achieve the 2030 energy targets outlined in the Minister's National Climate Action Plan (Action 181). It's worth noting that the DCC has already made significant progress, surpassing their 2020 target of 33% improvement in energy efficiency, reaching a reported 49.2%. However, they fell short in reducing emissions, achieving only a 26% reduction in 2020 compared to their 40% target.
As highlighted in the DCC annual report, the imperative to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 51% by 2030 necessitates funded support for projects like district heating, retrofitting, and energy efficiency upgrades as suggested by the 2024-2029 DCC Draft for the Climate Action Plan, which is currently open for public input over the next few weeks available on the DCC website.
Local Climate Plans aim to establish decarbonising zones, which the funding will help the CAROs support further within each local authority area. The zones are testing grounds for various solutions identified to address local low-carbon energy needs, GHG emissions reduction, and climate-related challenges.
CAROs have been instrumental in helping local authorities create awareness campaigns and tools related to climate change and action through knowledge hubs, training and citizen engagement. Some notable initiatives include the ‘Línte na Farraige’ art installation, a Weather Impact Register App (WIRE), and a Climate Adaptation Strategy for Regional and Local Roads, as well as supporting local campaigns such as ‘Eat the Streets Festival’ and
Dublin Climate Week. The newly allocated funding is expected to enhance the capabilities of CAROs further to assist in the goals of Local Authority Climate Action Plans for 2024 to create, as said by Minister Ryan, “A resilient Ireland where we work together to apply our knowledge, creativity and innovation to identify climate solutions”.