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Significant untapped potential in community-led climate action – Darren O’Rourke TD

21 January, 2022 - by Darren O Rourke TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Climate Action, Communications Networks and Transport, Darren O’Rourke TD, today called on Minister Eamon Ryan to realise the potential of community-led climate action by providing the tools and resources for local communities to help meet our climate objectives.

The Meath East TD made the comments following a series of meetings with Sustainable Energy Communities (SECs) from around the state.

Teachta O'Rourke said;

"Over the past number of weeks, I met with communities from across the state, in each of the four provinces, that are leading the way on climate action.

"The SEAI’s Sustainable Energy Communities programme, empowers local people to make changes that will benefit their community and the environment.

"Utilising mentoring and grants from the SEAI, locally-formed committees identify changes that should be made to help reduce energy use and to increase renewable energy production.

"That can involve, for example, the individual or group retrofit of homes, installation of solar PV, the development of local cycling infrastructure or investing in community-owned and public buildings and facilities - such as local schools, community and sports centres - to reduce energy use.

"Homeowners can share their first-hand experience of energy improvements, including information on grants, works completed and energy bill savings realised, with an aim of encouraging their neighbours to follow suit.

"From my engagement with SECs to date, it’s clear that the principles of the programme - bottom-up, community-led climate action - are sound, but there is significant room and need for improvement.

"Some regions are facing challenges in the process, particularly in terms of administrative and operational capacity, in terms of funding, and in dealing with strict standards, bureaucracies and criteria.

"These are issues that need to be addressed to realise the potential of local communities to lead on climate action. I firmly believe the will is there but it needs to be enabled.

"In recent hearings at the Oireachtas Climate Committee, we heard a range of experts highlight the importance of public participation to deliver on our climate objectives. They pointed to SECs and local government Public Participation Networks as candidate vehicles in this regard.

"In the coming weeks, Sinn Féin will publish its proposals to support local communities to lead on climate action. In the meantime, Minister Ryan should enhance the SEC model."

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