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Ballyvaughan on the Wild Atlantic Way. Photograph by John Kelly.

Ballyvaughan plans for low carbon future

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A LOW carbon plan is to be developed for the community of Ballyvaughan, thanks to a project spearheaded by An Taisce.

The blueprint will be drawn up over the course of the next three months and will see the An Taisce Legacy4LIFE working intensively with the community.

John Sweeney, Emeritus Professor of Geography at Maynooth University, is director of the Legacy4LIFE project and regular visitor to Ballyvaughan. This is a great opportunity for the people of Ballyvaughan to plan the climate action they want,” he said. “To have their say in how they decarbonise their community; brainstorm the jobs that will be needed as they decarbonise their economy; figure out what changes will be most effective in decarbonising their energy systems, buildings, transport, agriculture, land use, industry and waste. They can explore ways to build a circular economy and ensure a Just Transition for everyone so that nobody is worse off having played their part in the greatest challenge of our time.”

An example of the challenges faced in coastal areas is rising sea levels. Met Éireann has reported that sea surface temperatures are up to four degrees centigrade higher on the west coast this year. Sea water expands as it heats up so the higher the temperature, the higher the sea level rises. Satellite observations indicate that the sea level around Ireland has risen by approximately 2-3 mm per year since the early 1990s. Measurements in the surface waters to the west of Ireland between 1991 and 2013 indicate an increase in ocean acidity which threatens calcifying species such as corals, shellfish and crustaceans. Acidification is caused by additional carbon dioxide in the water. The ocean is a carbon sink, but it has limits. There is also less oxygen in the water, a which threatens the whole marine environment and species.

Theresa ODonohoe who is coordinating the initiative said signs of climate change cannot be ignored. There is no doubt that the world is warming,” she said. “We are having a glorious summer. However, we cannot ignore the drought conditions, heavier rain and increasing thunderstorms. These are all indicators of a warming world. EPA research in 2022 found that 83% of people in Clare are worried about climate change with 95% worried about the harm to our children and theirs. There is no doubt that we must lower our carbon emissions. We launched our survey at the community picnic in Ballyvaughan last Sunday. It was a lovely day as the rain stayed away and the feedback was extremely positive.”

Clare County Council is developing a Climate Action Plan in line with national policy. Ireland’s Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021 commits us to a 51% reduction in overall greenhouse gas emission by 2031 (compared to 2018 levels) and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 at the latest.

Change is on the cards whether we like it or not,” Ms O’Donohoe said. “The climate is changing and policy is also changing. We can either plan the climate response for ourselves, pursue our own vision or wait for someone else to do it for us. This survey is the start of the process of planning it for ourselves. It will be available online and I will have printed surveys available in the village hub and other locations within the village.”

Legacy4LIFE is co-funded by the EU Life Programme, the European Climate Foundation, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications. Legacy4LIFE is a programme of An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland.

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