Local authorities will play a key role in helping the
country to adjust to the effects of climate change. The
local government sector plays a pivotal role in planning for, and responding
to, emergency situations. Given their close relationship with the community,
local authorities can react faster and more effectively to local climate events
than other government agencies, This has been demonstrated in their response to
extreme weather events in Ireland over recent years. They have essential local
knowledge of the natural and manmade environment and have a critical role to
play in managing climate risks and vulnerabilities and identifying adaptation
actions. They also deliver key services to the public either directly or on in
partnership with other Government Departments such as housing, planning,
sanitation and maintenance of local roads, parks and waterways.
The National Adaptation Framework identifies the critical role to be played by local authorities in addressing climate change adaptation. This will effectively build on their existing expertise and experience as first responders in emergency planning scenarios. Under the NAF each local authority will also be developing their own adaptation strategies in line with guidelines developed for the sector . Local authorities have been set a deadline for the completion of local adaptation strategies of 30 September 2019.
The NAF explores how local authorities might adopt a joint or regional approach to adaptation planning. In January 2018 that the Department entered into a five year financial commitment of €10m to establish four Climate Action Regional Offices (CAROs). Building on a business case prepared by the local government sector itself, this commitment recognises the significant obligation which has been placed on local government to develop and implement its own climate action measures, as well as the need to build capacity within the sector to engage effectively with climate change – both in terms of mitigation and adaptation.
The Climate Action Regional Offices are being operated by a lead local authority in four different regions that have be grouped together based on a climate risk assessment with a focus on the predominant risk(s) in each geographical area. The establishment of these offices will enable a more coordinated engagement across the whole of government and will help build on the experience and expertise which exists across the sector.