When we look back at Dublin’s storied history, it’s clear that we are merely part of a long line of caretakers of the city. Here to ensure future generations get to enjoy all that Dublin has to offer, from the city’s rich natural habitats in the Dublin Bay Biosphere to the Phoenix Park and along the rivers and canals. However, we know that what we once thought was an infinite resource is under threat, and we can no longer sit idle. 2030 has been set as a vital deadline for reaching the goals set out by the Paris Agreement, aiming to turn the tide and take climate action.

In 2019, Dublin City Council (DCC) published its Climate Change Action Plan 2019-2024 (CCAP). The plan sets out how the Council is taking action to respond to the climate crisis. It ensures that operations and public service delivery in the city are not contributing to climate change, building climate resilience instead.

The plan has four key targets:

  • 33% energy efficiency in buildings, fleet and public lighting by 2020 (met and exceeded)
  • a 40% carbon reduction target, (increasing to 50% when the Climate Bill is released),
  • to make Dublin a climate-resilient city, and
  • actively engage and inform Dublin’s citizens on climate change.

The plan’s actions that aim to achieve these targets fall into five key areas that interconnect and align with DCC’s legislated responsibilities: energy and buildings, transport, flood resilience, nature-based solutions, and resource management.

Flood alleviation works, in conjunction with upgrades to the public realm at George’s Quay

DCC reports quarterly on the progress of actions and yearly progress to targets, meaning this plan is not allowed to collect dust on a shelf. It is a living plan that adapts and responds nimbly to policy changes at international, EU and national levels, the latest science and, most recently, pandemics.

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated several actions in the CCAP, particularly the delivery of infrastructure to encourage active travel through walking and cycling by our Sustainable Transport Unit. The pandemic has also drawn attention to our parks and the measures to support biodiversity around the city, like rewilding. Simultaneously, the pandemic has highlighted challenges we continue to struggle with – including waste.

The actions that address waste in the CCAP fall into the vital area of Resource Management. Our use of resources is at the centre of climate action. By wasting water, food and energy, we are willingly emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Yet, the most straightforward steps are the hardest, and we make excuses – “it’s just one light, it’s just one coffee cup, it’s just two seconds.” Old habits die hard.

It takes time to unlearn these habits built around convenience and find ways to make new sustainable practices easy.

Monitoring energy use in all DCC’s buildings is helping us immensely. To date we have:

  • achieved 36.5% energy efficiency through retrofits of libraries, area offices, fire halls, and galleries,
  • retrofitted seven leisure centres using energy performance contracting (EPC) to guarantee energy savings are achieved,
  • received the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) Energy Award for ‘Leadership in the Public Sector’ in 2020.

We are working to make it easier to reduce the amount of waste we produce even if rubbish is recyclable. MODOS, a circular economy programme launched in 2019, is a key programme that works with small and medium sized enterprises to embed circular economy practices into their operations.

Post-COVID, we will continue build on the steps we have taken and challenge ourselves further. We also hope to continue supporting staff in choosing low carbon sustainable travel options through DCC’s mobility hub, which provides e-bikes and e-cars for staff to use.

Mostly, DCC is looking forward to working with you, the public. What can you do? Ask us questions! We have an interdisciplinary team working hard to make Dublin climate resilient. Please tell us what you are doing via sabrina.dekker [at] dublincity.ie Climate action is a collaborative effort. The CCAP is only the beginning. We have started a two-year process for the City Development Plan, which sets out the city’s vision. From a climate change perspective, this is the most critical land-use plan before 2030. How we use land in the city, how we build back better and make Dublin a healthy place will require us to act.

We are all part of Dublin’s story and making sure that future generations have a city and planet that enables them to live full, healthy lives.

Sabrina Dekker

Sabrina Dekker is Dublin City Council’s Climate Action Coordinator, responsible for the implementation of Dublin City Council’s Climate Change Action Plan 2019-2024. She holds a PhD in Environmental Policy from School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy at University College Dublin.

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