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Floods, fires, extreme weather… enough of that

OPINION: Kerry people have a real grá for their natural environment but they need the support of all organisations, both state and private, to ensure it remains the beautiful county we all know it is, writes Green Party Kerry Chairperson Anluan Dunne 

THE UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has published its sixth assessment report showing that the increased number of extreme weather events, enormous increases in CO2, worsening methane emissions and many other factors are now being directly attributed to human activity.

Large swathes of the national park in Killarney were destroyed by preventable fire destroying habitats and releasing a massive amount of carbon into the atmosphere.
Picture: Valerie O’Sullivan

We need urgent action from our elected representatives, government and our own local authority to address the impact we in Kerry are having on our environment, habitats and communities.

Industry groups also need to get serious about how they can reduce their sectoral impacts. The time to talk is over. We now need direct and tangible action in line with the best scientific advice.

As the Minister for Climate Action and leader of the Green Party, Eamon Ryan said, the report makes it clear that failure to act will have devastating consequences but it also offers hope.

Strong and sustained reductions in emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases would limit climate change. We know what we have to do. We now need to harness a national and global effort to do it.

The number of extreme weather events is rising globally. China has seen the worst flooding in its history and North America has recorded the highest temperatures since records began.

The floods caused havoc in Kenmare and left many businesses counting the cost

Locally in Kerry, we have witnessed floods in Kenmare which devastated the town. Large swathes of the national park in Killarney were destroyed by preventable fire destroying habitats and releasing a massive amount of carbon into the atmosphere.

The two main areas where Kerry can do more to reduce impact are agriculture and transport. These sectors are jointly responsible for over half of our national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The increasingly poor state of our water in rivers and lakes and the destruction wrought on nature by overuse of herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers must be addressed.

The recent Food Vision 2030 strategy, produced by the agri-food sector, sets out highly conservative targets to reduce impact on the environment. More ambition is needed and, thankfully, such conservative limits will be overridden by the requirements set out in the Climate Action Bill.

“Our farmers are ready to make the transition to a model of food production that is less intensive and that preserves our environment while providing a sustainable income. We need to support farm families in this transition, ensuring farm incomes are maintained.

The Green Party insists the planned N22 Farranfore to Killarney scheme is a clear demonstration of the massive disconnect in what is appropriate investment in transport and what is being pursued

Across society we must acknowledge that people will have to pay more for food that is locally and sustainably produced.

The success of initiatives such as the West Kerry Farmers’ Sustainable Energy Initiative shows Kerry can lead the way to a sustainable future for Ireland and that the Green Party will commit the funds to ensure this is done justly and in a financially workable manner.

On transport, we continue to see Transport Infrastructure Ireland and Kerry County Council spend money on increasing the number of roads and the size of our road network. Unneeded and unwanted projects, such as the N22 Farranfore to Killarney scheme, are a clear demonstration of the massive disconnect in what is appropriate investment in transport and what is being pursued.

Our County Development Plan identifies the damage private car use is causing to both the environment and to communities. The same authority who identifies this issue continues to pursue massive road projects which embed private car use, divide communities and prevent investment in real alternatives like rail.

We need people to switch to greener modes of travel but it’s not fair to place the burden on the individual without KCC investing in alternatives.

While our recent environmental record in Kerry is less than stellar, there has been a real change in attitudes in the last few years, much of which has been driven by our young people, who are asking us to do much more to combat climate change.

Kerry people have a real grá for their natural environment and they need the support of all organisations, both state and private, to ensure Kerry remains the beautiful county we all know it is.