Offaly will be rolling out a green, low carbon welcome for our friends from the Dingle Hub in Kerry as they travel through Tullamore on their way to COP 26, the United Nations 26th Climate Change Conference!
What is COP 26?
COP 26 is the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties taking place in Glasgow on 31 October – 12 November 2021. The conference will bring global parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Over 190 world leaders, government representatives, businesses and citizens will participate in twelve days of talks.
COP 26 Global Goals
Many see COP 26 as the last chance to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. The event will see countries negotiating to agree on measures which will achieve the following goals:
- Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach
- Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats
- Mobilise finance
- Work together to deliver on the above and accelerate action.
From Dingle to COP via Offaly
So why are a team of people from the most western outpost of Ireland travelling in an electric car to COP? Well it’s all about the journey! Teams of 4 are challenged to travel to Glasgow in the most sustainable way possible. One team from Dingle Peninsula and four teams from Cascais in Portugal. They will record the carbon footprint of their travel, food, accommodation etc along the way. The teams will connect with three like-minded communities on their journey to facilitate knowledge sharing and relationship building. These learnings will be presented at a 1 hour side event in Glasgow which will be hosted by the Portuguese Ministry for the Environment. Green Offaly will be the first stop on the journey!
As Deirdre de Bhaílís and the team arrive at Charleville Castle in Tullamore they will be welcomed by Green Offaly, Offaly Public Participation Network, representatives of the various sectors that are involved in ‘green’ projects within Offaly and our special guest speaker, Duncan Stewart of Eco Eye.
The team will be arriving at lunchtime and will be treated to the very best of locally sourced (and carbon accounted) produce. This ‘lunch and learn’ meeting will be centred around learning about the innovative projects that are underway in our respective rural counties.
The 21st Century Rural Community
A key question for all global communities at this time and one The Dingle Hub and Green Offaly are working hard to implement solutions to is ‘how do you transition a County/Community into a low carbon society while increasing quality of living, creating employment opportunities and regenerating our Communities… in a timeframe of 20 years?
Here in Offaly the impetus driving this question is in achieving a ‘Just Transition’ for our peatland communities. Perhaps as a direct result of the accelerated transition, many great initiatives are taking place around the county. Key sustainable themes that we will be sharing on the day are centered on Peatlands, Farming, Energy, Green Enterprise, Sustainable Tourism and Youth for Climate Action.
The Importance of Offalys Peatlands
Offaly is a unique county, and has a special role to play in helping Ireland to meet the legal requirements of net zero by 2050. This is due to our wetlands being the equivalent of a rainforest in terms of their ability to sequester carbon and support biodiversity. The skies of Offaly were once full of Cranes and it is important to note that this year the Crane returned to Offaly to nest after a 300 year absence. This is a great symbol of a promised renewal for our County.
Communities and Climate Change.
The political negotiations may well add to the warming of the atmosphere with the hot air expended as countries try to come to an agreement to limit planetary warming! Meanwhile the communities of the world will be getting on with taking action and living with the day to day impacts of Climate change. This is especially true for the Communities of Offaly who find themselves on the frontline of this transition due to the sudden cessation of the peat industry, our 21% Peatland land bank and our vast farmlands.
The good news is that all over Offaly there are many organisations and communities who are navigating innovative pathways through the challenges of the climate crisis. The work of Dingle Hub is facilitating and driving the transition on the Peninsula and here in Offaly, many new initiatives are laying the foundations to deliver real and lasting change on the ground.
We are looking forward to gathering this community of projects together for the first time in order to share our green journey with Deirde and the team. Likewise we are keen to learn about the work going on in the Dingle Peninsula. All findings will be conveyed at a round table discussion at COP 26.
Green Offaly is a not for profit countywide green regeneration enterprise operating as a Development Trust. Incorporated in September 2020 the Trust has been established in direct response to the Government’s Project 2040 seminar, ’Empowering Communities in the Fight against Climate Change’. See www.greenoffaly.ie
COP26 will be a carbon neutral event and will be the first COP to achieve validation using PAS2060 international standard on carbon neutrality. Deirdre and the team are rising to the challenge to emit as few emissions as possible on the journey (and hopefully win the challenge for Ireland). Here in Offaly we aim to help the team by putting on a close to zero carbon event. We will be measuring the carbon footprint of the day with the help of participants of the new Green Enterprise Module that has been introduced to the Business Development Programme run by Offaly Local Development Company.
Rebekah Keaveny; Project Development Officer at Green Offaly says ‘I read many years ago that Communities from all over the world would join up like lighthouses to light the way in difficult times. We thank Dingle Hub for undertaking this journey and being the Green Lighthouse for our Communities at COP 26. This event illustrates the power of partnership and highlights the unprecedented level of partnership working that is going to be required as we navigate the stormy seas of the ongoing planetary crisis’.
To get involved in COP 26, see the COP26 Green Zone on YouTube.
To request a copy of the Green Digital Papers that will give an overview of all the projects and organisations working to effect positive change through this time of transition in Offaly and that are being showcased at the event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the heading Green Papers.