ONE of Cork’s new Green Party councillors has called for the county council to declare a climate emergency and establish a new committee to tackle environmental issues.
“We need political leadership from our elected representatives now more than ever,” Liam Quaide said.
“The cost of not taking action is unthinkable. The time for incremental change and half measures is long past.”
His motion asked the council to ‘establish a climate and biodiversity emergency committee comprised of elected members and environmental experts’ and suggested the committee’s remit should include sustainable transport and energy, flood protection and pollution mitigation measures.
He recommended it be more far-reaching than other council committees, with oversight of all council activity.
“Radical action should no longer be seen as a fringe green agenda, tacked on to business as usual,” Mr Quaide added.
“It is a policy imperative for all of us, at all levels of government.”
The suggestion received broad support from councillors with Fianna Fáil’s Seamus McGrath describing the climate emergency as “the greatest challenge the world faces today”.
In a response to the motion, Director of Services (Environment) Louise Duffy said “there is no real clarity on what the passing of such a motion will mean in practice”.
Tim Lucey, chief executive of Cork County, also told councillors that new committee could also impact on the relationship and work of existing committees.
Ms Duffy said that the Council’s Draft Climate Adaptation Strategy is due before Council in July and suggested the Council consider the strategy and its implementations before making any firm decision on how to proceed.
It was agreed that the committee would be discussed further after the Draft Climate Adaptation Strategy is published next month, although Mr Quaide reiterated the need for more urgent action.
“I can understand the suggest to await the publication,” said.
“However, I find it worrying ... that we appear to be limiting our ambitions and responsibilities to not much more than what the government is doing.
“We all know Government policy has not been proactive, we have been identified as repeatedly as the worst performing country in Europe on climate action.
“I think we need to be bold and ambitious in responding to this emergency and very much hope we can revisit this.”