Nationally, Climate Dialogue sessions provide opportunities for everyone interested in tackling the climate crisis to contribute ideas and actions. The goal of Leitrim Cróga Climate Dialogue is to come up with initiatives and policies to make County Leitrim climate proof, while protecting the well-being of the community, for current and future generations. As Phase 2 of the Cróga project, three Climate Dialogue sessions are currently being organised by GEAI.

There was a big turnout at the second Leitrim Cróga Climate Dialogue session which took place in Carrick-on-Shannon on February 20th, following the first session in December. The evening was most enjoyable and everyone attending commented on the positive and constructive atmosphere in the room. With the help of presentations, discussions and workshops our goal of getting suggestions of grassroots climate actions was achieved.

In fact, the outcome from this session was the sketching of 30 Cróga Climate Action initiatives, a tribute to the innovation of the participants.

Programme of the event

Presentations

Anamaria Georgescu presented the overall figures from the Cróga baseline report. The following infographic sums up the inventory of greenhouse gases emissions and sinks (carbon absorbed, mainly from forests) in County Leitrim:

inventory of greenhouse gases emissons and sinks in county leitrim
Agriculture is the biggest emitter, followed by Transport and Residential (housing). The natural carbon sinks offset about half of Leitrim’s annual emissions.

Jules Portier presented the baseline figures for the Transport and Housing sectors, as well as possible scenarios to cut emissions applying the 2030 and 2050 targets set by the government’s Climate Action Plan. Nicoló Tria did the same for Agriculture. Such scenarios are tentative and not ground-tested, but aim at stimulating various initiatives to adjust them to Leitrim reality. For a full exposure of Leitrim Cróga mitigation scenarios, go to this page.

Jules Portier explaining the Transport mitigation scenario.
Nicoló Tria explaining abatement measures that might suit Leitrim’s farming landscape.

Nicoló highlighted the crucial role farmers in Leitrim play as guardians of habitats and biodiversity, services that are not valued or paid enough in existing CAP schemes. Nicoló mentioned the role of commercial Forests as carbon sinks too, although due to the high pace of clear-felling, the captured carbon doesn’t have enough time to trickle down to the soil (it stays locked-in the timber). He also addressed the threats of biodiversity loss and soil-water depletion caused by Sitka Spruce monocultures. All in all, forestry poses a few economic and environmental problems that need thorough public scrutiny.

Workshops – Climate Dialogue in Action

Activity 1 What kind of a Climate Activist are you?

For the introduction to Climate Dialogue, we prepared an activity where three locations in the room were labeled Utopians, Realists and Sceptics. Specific policy statements prepared by the facilitators were read out one at a time. These statements all tackled the Climate & Biodiversity Crisis and were taken from the Gov’t Climate Action Plan, the Citizen’s Assembly’s 13 Recommendations and OneFuture’s 9 policy proposals. After each statement, the attendees had to follow their gut feelings and physically move to one of the three different locations based on their opinion. This stimulated discussion and much laughter!

Below some examples of policy statements that created divisive reactions…

Deliver a new Retrofit Plan to retrofit 500,000 homes, with large groups of houses being retrofitted by the same contractor to reduce costs, smart finance and easy pay back methods.

(Gov’t Climate Action Plan, 2019)

There should be a tax on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture. There should be rewards for the farmer for land management that sequesters carbon. Any resulting revenue should be reinvested to support climate friendly agricultural practices.

(Citizen’s Assembly 13 Recommendation, No. 11, agreed by 89% of the Members)

Ban new fossil fuel projects.

(OneFuture 9 policy proposals, No. 3)

This exercise helped identify financing and social equity issues regarding proposals that are, at first sight, non negotiable and inherently good. On the other hand, it helped identify possible modifications to make them more feasible and fair.

Activity 2Speedy Ideas

In order to start the next activity, attendees then sat at four different working tables, each one covering a Climate Dialogue challenge.

  • HOUSING: what does the government target of retrofitting all houses to standard B2 (BER) mean on the ground? How can people afford this?
  • TRANSPORT: what is our vision for low-emissions transport in rural Ireland? How can we achieve this?
  • AGRICULTURE & other land uses (two tables): how can our farms become higher nature value and climate proof while ensuring that farmers get fair incomes?

At each table, participants were asked to come up with speedy ideas based on letters of the alphabet. They then chose ideas and transformed them into initiatives using the design thinking process. For a full description on the design thinking workshop and its outcomes, follow the link above.

An example of the Speedy Ideas alphabet sheet compiled for the Agriculture focus group.
the co-design thinking process
The Design Thinking process: 1) Define your idea; 2) Elaborate on your idea: 3) Test and kill the idea; 4) Overcome the criticism and reinvent the idea; 5) Market your idea: catchy name and slogan; 6) Space for voting.

Leitrim cróga Climate Dialogue: concluding remarks

We built this session upon the main findings and recommendations stemming from the first Climate Dialogue session, that citizens like you helped to define. We want to thank all past and future attendees for partaking in this important adventure.

Stay tuned to catch up with the next Cróga Climate Dialogue session and the Climate Action Initiatives!

Cróga = brave, in Irish
Cróga = Climate-Resilient Opportunities for Generations Ahead