New collective wants to add environmental issue to city’s vision

Brendan Smith: City of Culture award should be 'catalyst to improve both the natural environment and the quality of life of people', he says.

A new initiative aiming to accelerate the transition to a low carbon sustainable future has been launched in Galway.

The Post Carbon Galway (PCG) initiative aims to work in partnership with all sectors to ensure that environmental issues are to the fore in the coming years.

And the team believe that – with Galway’s recent successes in landing the 2020 Capital of Culture crown as well as the European Green Leaf award for Sustainable City in 2017 and European Region of Gastronomy in 2018 – their vision can add another string to that bow.

“While the eyes of the world are upon us, Galway now has a unique opportunity to be at the forefront of world cities in leading not only in the more traditional vision of arts and culture but in the green transition to a more sustainable future, in effect becoming Ireland’s first CO2 neutral capital,” explained PCG’s Brendan ‘Speedie’ Smith.

“The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrating impacts of climate change and the historic United Nations’ Paris Climate Agreement recently ratified by nearly 200 nations means climate change can no longer be ignored, urging us all to undertake a rapid shift to a fully sustainable renewable energy culture and economy over the next two decades,” he added.

The Post Carbon Galway collaboration acknowledged that transitioning to a renewable energy-based culture and economy needed an all-inclusive partnership approach.

“While climate change is seen as the main focus, the plans and solutions proposed need to be cognisant of the wider picture on biodiversity, culture and heritage, growth versus sustainable economy and human and community well-being, that would enable a sustained, citizen-led engagement.

“We now need to unite all of local society in planning and creating a just, managed, transition to a secure, flourishing, and authentically sustainable post-carbon Galway,” explained Mr Smith.

Post Carbon Galway was set up to devise and monitor a local pathway to a low carbon Galway, by working collaboratively in setting ambitious and achievable targets to tackle climate change, biodiversity loss and to promote sustainable development within Galway City and County.

Its members include Galway City Community Network, An Tasice, INSIGHT and The Ryan Institute NUI Galway, Transition Galway, Collaborative Ways, Third Space Galway, Galway Cycling Campaign and Conservation Volunteers Galway.

Brendan Smith recently highlighted on social media how the 2020 bid process forced us to look beyond our individual sector and community towards an ambitious holistic vision that can only be achieved by a unity of purpose.

“They have shown us that ‘culture’ is not something that belongs only to the realm of the arts but underpins all aspects of our local lives, from business to scientific research to environmentalism, from life in rural villages to urban neighbourhoods,” he said.

“Let us all take full advantage of the unique opportunities being presented to make ‘culture’ synonymous with Galway in all its identities and to use it as a catalyst to improve both the natural environment and the quality of life of all its people,” he added.

If you would like to get involved or for any further information on the Post Carbon Galway initiative, contact project coordinator Martina Finn 0872201972 or visit their website.