Leadership on the Environment and Climate Action
Labour Party Manifesto 2020

Labour is committed to real change to Ireland’s economy so that we are less reliant on fossil fuels. This is incredibly ambitious but failure is not an option.

The climate emergency is now, but we can meet the 60 million tonne challenge: the challenge of reducing our collective greenhouse gas emissions from 60 million tonnes every year to net zero in just 30 years. Labour gets it, and we understand how local government can promote action on the environment and provide leadership for communities and businesses to become sustainable.

It is time for greater local council leadership on climate change. That’s why we are calling for there to be Climate Action Committees on every council to drive an ambitious agenda to reduce carbon emissions and to ensure sustainability

We’ll call for specific Climate Action Funds to be allocated in each Council budget, to finance practical ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

  • We want an ambitious State-led programme to insulate over 100,000 homes a year, including existing council housing. Insulating homes helps reduce energy poverty as people save money on their energy costs. A national insulation programme also has the benefit of reducing Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions

We will seek more investment in flood protection for Irish cities and towns that need protection against extreme weather events

We’ll make sure that local councils improve their recycling facilities. We need to make it easier for people to recycle plastic items. We will explore the option of setting up local deposit schemes on certain bottles and containers

We will:

  • Help our citizens reduce their reliance on single-use plastic bottles by ensuring that there are water fountains available in Council buildings such as libraries and community centres
  • Take action on food waste at local level, to minimise food spoilage and to encourage the redistribution of surplus food by producers and retailers
  • Promote an expansion in the collection of organic waste from people’s homes

Councils need to have Just Transition plans for every local area to show how new good jobs will be created to replace jobs that are linked to fossil fuels. There needs to be a Green New Deal to support new sustainable jobs, to reduce energy poverty and to increase access to sustainable public transport

  • Apprenticeships and training schemes should be established so more workers have the skills for jobs linked to environmental sustainability
  • Energy poverty can affect older people and people with disabilities who may need to use more home heating. We will set up schemes to combat this

Labour will call for councils to publish their carbon emissions as part of their annual reports and for local Carbon Budgets to be aligned with the National Carbon Budget

Local councils should be ambitious when it comes to their role in renewable energy uses. It is possible for council properties and land to be used to generate wind and solar power

  • Communities should be given access to the national electricity grid, to enable them to generate renewable energy such as wind and solar as a contribution to meeting local electricity needs and reducing Ireland’s carbon emissions
  • We’ll seek strict planning guidelines to overcome concerns about wind farms

Labour Councillors will make sure that city and county development plans include initiatives that improve our infrastructure for public transport, cycling and walking in order to reduce our reliance on cars

  • Greater investment is needed to improve and promote walking and cycling facilities.We’ll call for continuous and segregated bike lines through urban centres, safe counter-flow cycle lanes, secure cycle stands in towns and at schools, and safe routes for schoolchildren cycling to school
  • We believe that 10% of the national transport budget should go into improving our cycling infrastructure. Councils should appoint dedicated cycling officers to promote cycling and insist in the planning and improvement of new cycling and existing routes
  • Labour has delivered the public Dublin Bike scheme and extended similar schemes to Cork, Limerick and Galway. We believe that these schemes should be extended to all parts of Dublin, not just within the city boundaries. The catchment areas should also be widened in Cork, Limerick and Galway, and the scheme extended to other urban areas
  • More people than ever are using electric cars. We need to make sure charging points are more widely available, particularly in rural Ireland
  • We will work with local councils and An Garda Síochána to seek to regularise the responsible use of electric scooters
  • We support a strategic overhaul of bus transport in Dublin, while we will also advocate for revisions to the BusConnects plan where it has failed to take legitimate local concerns into account

We believe that any contractor receiving public funds should be kept to high environmental standards. All local councils should insist on stronger environmental conditions as part of any contract they issue

  • The Labour Party will insist that all water services remain in public ownership

Local councils have a role in protecting public land and must do more to protect against illegal dumping and pollution, and enhancing the lands through cultivating a balanced range of native species

  • Members of the public should be able to access public land for leisure activities
  • We’ll call for local councils to implement mixed species afforestation and peatland restoration on lands in their control, which will support the direct and indirect creation of sustainable jobs in rural areas
  • Local councils should report on species diversity in their areas in their annual reports and outline how they plan to protect and enhance habitats to ensure that the populations of nativ species are sustainable
  • Modern technology allows us to use forensic science to find out who is responsible for dumping, littering, dog fouling and pollution. Illegal dumping is a scourge on many communities.We think more effective enforcement is needed to help stamp out these problems
  • Local councils should have more powers to control air pollution, as councils are best placed to restrict the activities that cause air pollution
  • Local councils should work in tandem with local farmers and Education and Training Boards to make land available for allotments and community gardens
  • We will support the development of more greenways and blueways to support leisure activities and tourism