Environmental Questions for General Election 2020 Candidates
A general election has been called for Ireland to be held on Saturday, 8th February 2020 and with the increasing changes in our climate, it’s more important than ever that our local, national and European representatives are aware of the environmental issues.
The following are a list of questions that the Irish Environmental Network, Kerry Climate Action Network, and for more local questions, County Carlow Environmental Network have put together to help you pose your questions to the representatives looking for your vote. If you have any more suggestions, please leave them in the comments below.
Section A: The candidate themselves
Question 1: What qualities do you offer as a leader, in 5 words or less?
Question 2: What directorships/ boards or committee membership positions including: (i) businesses and (ii) community organisations?
Question 3: What do you currently do to reduce your climate impact?
Question 4: What transport brought you here today?
Question 5: What company stocks, shares, voting rights do you hold?
Section B: Commitment to local community
Question 6: How would you support the creation and protection of biodiversity?
Question 7: What does sustainability mean to you? How will you work to create a sustainable future if elected? What local environmental actions have you ACTIVELY PARTICIPATED IN this quarter?
Question 8: How will you improve public transport, cycling and walking infrastructure?
Question 9: What’s the phrase to remember when adding things to your recycling bin?
Question 10: How would you support a network of locally produced food and energy initiatives?
Section C: National Issues
Question 11: Name 3 endangered species: Birds, Bees, Plants, Animals? How would you support the protection of wildlife throughout Ireland?
Question 12: To help Rural Ireland, how do you plan to draw down EU funding, particularly the 25% of Long-term Funding set aside for Climate Action?
Question 13: Nationally, in 2018/19, what % of Ireland’s (i) Domestic (ii) Commercial waste bins are still filled with recyclable/compostable products?
Question 14: What are your plans to mitigate climate change and over what period of time will these actions be taken?
Question 15: What will Brexit mean for Climate Change in Ireland?
Section D: International Issues
Question 16: Which Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are of greatest concern to you now & why?
Question 17: Explain Carbon Credits versus Carbon Offsets
Question 18: What have you heard about Carbon Engineering
Question 19: Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels will result in total global coral death of (a) 7-9% OR (b) 70-90% OR (c) 99%?
Question 20: According to the IPCC report; climate change impacts on eradication of poverty and reducing inequalities would be greater if global warming were limited to ___ rather than ___?
More Local Focussed Questions
1. What is your Carbon footprint?
Your own personal calculated footprint including indirect consumption (as per for example carbon footprint calculator), not the average reported for Ireland/Carlow or other source delegated to civil servants?
2. How are you proposing to reduce the carbon emissions of the now 10,000 plus households in Carlow town by 40% in the next 11 years (by 2030 as per EU directive) in line with the 17 UN Sustainable Development goals?
3. What is your position on re-socialising waste collection?
Similar to Seville, Dublin City council prior to 2012. This would reduce illegal dumping (as all would automatically avail of the service) and the need for different waste collectors needlessly collecting too frequently individually from each household (see central waste station in Seville right). It could also liberate existing revenue from Repak which mainly subsidises paid private household collection (missing those who manage their own waste).
4. Lidl recently launch a collection service at the checkout to allow customers to leave packaging at source before they leave the premises. Considering 80% of all grocery shopping is done in supermarkets, are you going to legislate for all supermarkets in the constituency to do the same?
5. With all the vacant commercial properties, rather than subsidise the private owner to renovate (and subsequently use public money to increase private capital, a form of rent seeking) what is your position on taxing all commercial properties (in use and vacant) within existing rate zones?
This could not only increase council revenue to spend on much needed social and infrastructure projects, it would encourage movement on existing stock centrally within communities (e.g. Tullow Street, reducing the need for the private car) rather than building more new developments further out (e.g. Wexford Road and Barrow Valley Retail Parks, with some premises never filled) potentially reducing rental prices through more supply and allow existing performing business to avail of reduced rates offset from greater council revenue. All this would allow more opportunity for business. It would also allow Carlow to attract future business and reduce further lost revenue from very close competing jurisdictions availing of lower rates (e.g. Dunnes in Graiguecullen). It may even attract those lost businesses back into the jurisdiction.
6. In a recent council Joint Spatial plan amendment, it mentioned ‘the provision of a pedestrian, cycle and ecological linkage between the Barrow Track and Oak Park Forest Park’. While this is welcome, what is your position about facilitating this through reopening access to the publicly owned Oak Park grounds itself? A route across the old sugar factory site could connect to a pedestrian walkway (raised bump) at the old Sawmills entrance on the Athy road outside the school. This would encourage both calming of traffic before the school entering Carlow town and encourage more footfall through the railway tunnel entrance reducing the possibility of illegal dumping taking place there.
7. While turning a previous dump site into the Carlow town public park with separate pedestrian access from both sides of the Barrow river is to be commended (and a good example of what can be possible), what are you going to do about another waste site, the settling ponds on the Graiguecullen side of the river (see picture right)?
As it is currently waste land containing contaminated soil, it could again be recycled to develop a community forest allowing a network of accessible wilderness, forest, Barrow track and Oak Park all within walking distance of the greater urban area. May even have tourism (economic) potential.
8. With the Joint Spatial plan for the Greater Carlow Graiguecullen area envisioning a road bridge across the river to complete the outer link for cars and trucks around the town, what is your position about erecting a closer cycle and pedestrian bridge (perhaps at Carlow IT, beside Burger King) to encourage citizens out of their cars to more sustainable transport?
This bridge while wider to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians, it would deliberately not be to share with car traffic (see picture right). The old Graiguecullen bridge while central, it is now so congested and too narrow for pedestrian, cyclist and motor vehicle. With more and bigger cars resulting in traffic congestion, pedestrians use and even safety is now being compromised (cyclists not taking to the minimum width path – not me!).
9. With so many in the town needing to travel long distance for employment, what are you going to do to encourage/incentivise commuters out of their private car and into accessible networks of public transport? Such as the Hanover bus park (or a future bus stop at N7 junction?) and train station (too built up beside schools. Perhaps develop parking facilities at youth centre or off Cannery road beside railway?) Use of existing unused parking on far side of Woodies retail park (never used although privately owned)? Frequent, reliable, affordable bus networks between smaller towns (e.g. Tullow) to central hub (Carlow town) to greater urban centres (Dublin).
10. With the move away from manufacturing/production to a services economy, there is a high probability there will never be long term large industry/factory based employment as in the past (e.g. Braun or Lapple). Also, due to automation and technology there may be less opportunities for paid work in general (up to 30% less jobs!), considering Carlow’s location, demographics (27% of available workforce unemployed in last census) and existing prospects of local employment would you consider being one of the first in Ireland to trial Universal Basic Income? This would begin on the long road away from the overemphasis of the dominant wasteful market economy of material consumption and reimagine provision based on need rather than want (see www.basicincomeireland.com). It will still allow the performing private market to function and the trial could be used to demonstrate cost savings/neutrality, less stress, encourage greater community resilience etc, all locally. Carlow town is urban (>70% of future population will be urban), large enough to carry out a meaningful experiment but small enough to not disrupt the larger porous currently centralised Irish economy.
11. The council allocates funding each year, to the organisers of Festivals in the county that apply. Would they be willing to attach an Environmental Performance Report, to all funding applications submitted, allowing for a scaled scoring system to reward or penalise the impacts that these festivals can generate ?
12. Will the council commit to implementing Cleaner Production initiatives across all buildings/offices, services, public amenities and transport sectors within its remit ?
This will help reduce carbon emissions generated in the county, while increasing energy efficiency, water conservation and economic sustainability, as well as reducing waste generation and risks to both human life and the environment.
photo credit: secretlondon123 <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/25834786@N03/4585036818">Polling station</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">(license)</a>