National Dialogue on Climate Action – It’s Community Engagement time!

The first of a series of Regional Gatherings under the National Dialogue on Climate Action took place in Athlone, at the Radisson Blu Hotel, on Saturday June 23rd. What a fantastic day! The National Dialogue on Climate Action is a Government led initiative through the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, along with the Environmental Protection Agency, in engaging people in collaborative action.

Representatives from organisations, community groups, NGOs and individuals from across Roscommon, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan, Louth, Meath, Westmeath, Longford and Offaly gathered together in Athlone and shared ideas and solutions to be taken at grassroots and local level to tackle climate change. A GEAI delegation participated at the Dialogue, including our EVS volunteer Francesca in her capacity of Leitrim Cool Planet Champion.

Guest speakers and Minister Naughten

Discussions and workshops went on for the whole day. Guest speakers included Dr. Conor Murphy  (Maynooth University), Mick Kelly and Katie Smith (Change X and Grow It Yourself), Dr. Margaret Desmond (University College Cork). A drop-in area was open to the public to meet representatives from Eco-Unesco, Teagasc, An Taisce, SEAI, VOICE Ireland, IFA and EPA.

The choice of the location for the event is significant as “Athlone is one of the areas which have suffered greater impacts of climate change. At the moment 147 families are still seeking relocation due to flooding” Minister Naughten highlighted in his opening remarks. “The Government has committed nearly 1% of the GDP to be spent on climate measures under the National Development Plan. No other government in the world has done that” said Denis Naughten. The Minister called also for communities to make their voice heard. He told the audience that when he was campaigning for the general elections only one citizen asked him about climate change.  “We will be investing but we need people and communities to talk about climate change” he added.

Francesca with Minister Naughten and other participants (Ph credit: DCCAE)

It has been such an inspiring day and I was delighted to be appointed as one of the Table Hosts to facilitate the discussion as the Leitrim Cool Planet Champion” Francesca said. “There is a terrific positive energy among the people here today. We are all very conscious of the urgent and imperative collective effort needed. Now it is time to engage with the whole civil society, we simply cannot afford any further delay” she added. “Climate change represents a threat but also a major opportunity for Leitrim. The inevitable transformational change required represents a massive opportunity for low-carbon investments across all economic sectors, resulting in an increased attraction of new brains (and families) to come and live in this stunning part of Ireland” Francesca concluded.

GEAI at SEAI 2017 National Event on Sustainable Energy Communities

SEAI SEC National Event in Athlone IT

On Saturday 25th November 2017 our EVS Volunteer Francesca attended the annual National Event on Sustainable Energy Communities (SECs) organised by SEAI, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, and hosted by Athlone Institute of Technology, Athlone, Co. Roscommon.
The event brought together SEC representatives from all over the country to network with other SEC groups and share personal experiences as well as useful information.
The opening remarks by Julie O’Neill, SEAI Chairperson, celebrated the successful expansion of the Sustainable Energy Community Programme, with 124 SECs currently all around Ireland – this number has doubled during the last twelve months.

The event was structured around several workshops designed using a LEARN – PLAN – DO approach and tailored to meet the needs of SECs at different stages of development.
During the day participants and SEC representatives had the opportunity to get insights from SEAI mentors and guest speakers and share national and international experiences.
Topics of the workshops included Engaging Energy Citizens: Tools and Support; SEAI Citizen Engagement Programmes; Engaging Business Energy Users and lastly, Energy Master Plans and Renewable Energy.

“ThinkEnergy” toolkit

It was particularly interesting to learn about “ThinkEnergy”, a Home Energy Saving Kit developed by Codema aimed at better understanding the energy consumption at household level and cut down energy bills. The kit contains a fridge/freezer thermometer, a temperature and humidity meter, a radiator key, a thermal leak detector, a plug-in energy monitor and a stopwatch in addition to a user-friendly guide with tips and solutions. At the moment the kit is available to borrow free-of-charge in libraries across Dublin City and it will be soon made available in other parts of the country. (Watch the explanatory video here)

 

BMW i3 model (EV)

During the day our Volunteer had also the opportunity to test driving a five-door urban electric BMW i3. “It was really exciting to test it as it was the first time I drove an automatic and electric vehicle” Francesca said adding that “the event has been a fantastic experience to interact with people involved in energy issues at local level and to acknowledge efforts made by SEAI to engage with citizens and promote energy efficiency”.

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