It is now 15 months into the implementation of the Fingal County Council Climate Action Plan and in this time, as highlighted in the first annual progress report presented at the Council meeting in January 2021, Fingal County Council has achieved one of its four key targets.
It has improved the energy efficiency of the Council, developed an ISO 50001 compliant energy management system and has progressed on many of the actions set out in the plan.
Even though the Covid-19 pandemic was at the forefront of everyone’s mind in 2020, climate change is still one of the most pressing issues facing local authorities in both the short and long term and Fingal County Council is still committed to tackling climate change and the impacts that will it have on the region.
The Climate Action, Biodiversity and Environment Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) played an important role in the creation of the CCAP. The current Mayor of Fingal, Cllr David Healy is chairperson of the committee and he outlined the role the SPC had, and still has, in overseeing the Plan.
“The Action Plan is moving further, seeking to make the Council a leading organisation within the county for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and the path to full decarbonisation and climate neutrality.”
Cllr David Healy, Mayor of Fingal
“The Climate Change Action Plan resulted from Fingal County Council signing up to the EU Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy Signing up to the Covenant means committing to developing a Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan with the aims of cutting CO2 emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030 and increasing resilience to the impacts of climate change. The Strategic Policy Committee and the entire Council is fully committed to this goal.”
Fingal County Council’s Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP) 2019-2024 was published in September 2019 after it was developed by staff across all departments, in collaboration with regional colleagues and elected representatives; and contains an ambitious list of actions which the Council will undertake over the five-year period.
David Storey, who was recently appointed as Director of the newly created Environment, Climate Action and Active Travel Department for Fingal County Council, spoke about the commitment that Fingal County Council has shown over the past year.
“The Progress Report demonstrates the commitment the Council has shown in the first year through the ongoing implementation of the Climate Change Action Plan, and of supporting plans. Work will continue to complete all actions outlined in the plan while also allowing for further actions to be added.”
The CCAP outlined the four key targets to be achieved across its five-year timeline and contains 133 actions that are on-going or planned within the Council. They cover five key action areas – Energy and Buildings, Transport, Flood Resilience, Nature-Based Solutions and Resource Management. These actions are broad-ranging, have a rolling duration, and are generally greater than one year in life-span.
The four key targets that were identified for the plan were:
- 33 per cent improvement in the Council’s energy efficiency by 2020;
- 40 per cent reduction in the Council’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030;
- To make Fingal a climate resilient region; and
- To actively engage and inform citizens on climate change.
The first Annual Progress report showed that in 2020 the implementation of the plan is well underway. One of the four targets set, the improvement of energy efficiency of the Council of 33 per cent by December 2020, was achieved a year ahead of schedule. The Energy Management Team’s Energy Review for 2019, in collaboration with Codema, Dublin’s Energy Agency, saw the Council’s energy efficiency improve by 34.5 per cent, effectively exceeding the 33 per cent target for 2020. This improvement amounts to an absolute saving of 12.4 GWh of primary energy or 4,578 tonnes of CO2.
The Fingal Energy Management Team also developed an ISO 50001 certified energy management system, which enables improved oversight of energy accounts on a monthly basis.
Public lighting was identified by the Energy Management Team as the main user of energy by the Council with over 50 per cent of usage. Plans are in place to expedite the roll out of LED public lighting, which are 60–70 per cent more efficient than the old lights. The roll out is now 70 per cent complete and on track for completion by the end 2021.
The Mayor of Fingal, Cllr David Healy, believes Fingal County Council can be a leader in Fingal on climate action.
“The Council had already taken significant steps to improve energy efficiency before developing the plan with the support of Codema. The Action Plan is moving further, seeking to make the Council a leading organisation within the county for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and the path to full decarbonisation and climate neutrality.”
The Climate Change Action Plan commits to delivering a Just Transition recognising that a significant level of change is required and that burdens borne must be fair across society. Fingal will work alongside agencies like Codema to support and encourage citizens, local businesses, public authorities and transport groups to work together towards the same goal of developing Fingal and Dublin as a sustainable, healthy, leading EU city by 2050.
“Through the development of the new Environment, Climate Action and Active Travel Department in Fingal we will be encouraging our residents to make sustainable choices in their day-to-day lives. The Council will continue to invest in infrastructure to support Active Travel and this will ensure active travel initiatives are streamlined with the resources to deliver,” says Storey.
The transitioning of Fingal County Council’s vehicle fleet to an electric one is at 15 per cent with 34 fully electric road vehicles in operation and 15 more on order for early 2021. A Biodiversity Action Plan is being drafted which will deliver a climate change resilient ecological network throughout the county and climate and environmental awareness programmes are ongoing with both staff and public.
The continued implementation of the Action Plan, in collaboration with CARO, Codema and other stakeholders, supported by Government policy, will contribute to setting a pathway to ensure a climate resilient region in Fingal by 2030, and assist in laying the foundations for a carbon neutral society.
“The Climate Action SPC plan to continue, in cooperation with the Council, the Climate Action Regional Office and Codema, to work on the full range of actions in the plan,” says Cllr David Healy. “The target of the Action Plan encompasses the overall emissions of the county over the next decade, so, in addition to pursuing the Council’s own actions, we will consider what additional steps we need to take to encourage the other organisations, individuals and businesses in the county to join us in meeting this challenge.”
The Fingal Climate Change Action Plan and the First Annual Progress Report can be viewed at: https://www.fingal.ie/climate-change-action-plan-2019-2024
Fingal County Council