On 27 July, Global Action Plan is attending a meeting of the National Climate Stakeholder Forum (NCSF) in Dublin.
What is the National Climate Stakeholder Forum?
The Forum was established by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications to function as “a consultative forum on climate issues”, as part of a National Dialogue on Climate Action (NDCA).
The National Dialogue aims to promote active and informed discussion on climate action across Ireland, and is made up of a number of initiatives that hope to empower people at local and national level to have their say in how Ireland can make the transition to a more sustainable society:
The National Climate Stakeholder Forum (NCSF)
The 2020 Programme for Government (PfG) committed Ireland to becoming a net-zero and climate neutral economy by 2050. This ambition was laid down in legislation through the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2021 and the Government published the Climate Action Plan 2021 to set out how the target is to be achieved: the Climate Action Plan is “a roadmap to becoming a climate neutral economy and resilient society by 2050.”
The first meeting of the National Climate Stakeholder Forum took place in March 2022, with some 120 people attending. The focus was on realising opportunities presented by the transition to carbon neutrality in a fair and equitable manner, and the meeting discussed four priority areas:
- Offshore renewables
- Sustainable Mobility: including active transport and modal shift
- Engagement, Communications and Climate Literacy
It is hoped the Forum will meet three times each year.
National Climate Conversations
The Forum builds on a series of Climate Conversations, facilitated by the Government throughout 2021, that captured the views of over 3,800 members of the public and interested organisations (you can read the summary report here). The views expressed in the Conversations have informed the development of the Government’s Climate Action Plan.
National Youth Assembly on Climate
According to the Government, “the Assembly acts as a consultative forum for children and young people between the ages of 12 and 24 on issues that are important to them. It provides a systematic means of capturing the voices of young people in Ireland and feeding this directly into the development of Government policy.”
The Youth Assembly was very clear in its recommendations: young people are calling for policy measures built on climate justice principles, with a particular focus on rural communities, and they want strong climate action now. The Government must ensure that sustainable choices are becoming real, accessible and affordable for all.
Among the proposals from the Youth Assembly were measures to improve public transport, encourage cycling, promote more sustainable farming models, and introduce more community-level engagement forums.
Why is Global Action Plan participating in the Forum?
As an environmental organisation focused on global solidarity and fairness, GAP Ireland is actively involved in programmes that aim to deliver a “Just Transition” to a post-carbon society.
The idea of a just transition is to make sure that the benefits of the move to a green economy are widely shared, while also supporting those who stand to lose economically from the changes.
Our programme in the Midlands, “Reimagine Workers’ Villages”, supports communities who were deeply involved in the peat extraction sector and are now highly impacted by the end of this industry.
The Climate Action Plan commits Ireland to delivering a Just Transition, recognising the significant change that is required, and emphasising that the burden must be distributed as fairly as possible. The Government has asked the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) to examine the transition to a low-carbon future and to provide recommendations, in order to better understand and prepare for a ‘just transition’.
The Wider Midlands is the first region in Ireland experiencing a concentrated transition away from carbon intensive activities. Jobs in peat will make way for jobs in renewable energy, bog rehabilitation and other new business opportunities. The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC) has established a 2020 Just Transition Fund to ensure that workers and the Midlands as a community are fully supported.
What we said at the forum
As an organisation focused on empowering people to take action and to make positive changes, we argued at the Forum that a Just Transition requires sustained investment in mechanisms and forums for people to have a say.
In our work, either through our work in Ballymun where we assist people from under-served communities or our global citizenship education programmes, we have learned that lasting change can only be achieved if people are empowered and supported. In our programmes we emphasise ‘learning by doing’ and we emphasise the need to combine education with action.
To ensure our programmes yield lasting benefits, GAP programmes work with communities in supportive, peer-led group settings. We select environmental issues people care about and offer stimulating opportunities for practical action. Furthermore, we tailor our programmes or workshops to fit participants’ needs and skill levels. In addition to that, we reach out to people in places that are accessible and comfortable for them.
And people need to be given hope; people need a clear invitation to become part of a better Ireland for all. Rather than the prevailing narrative of the difficulties of the change to net zero, Global Action Plan is working to change the public discourse, so that the benefits of the change are clearer to everyone, and that the “Climate Heroes” that are already demonstrating that alternatives really do work are being highlighted and celebrated