Climate Change

Climate change is one of the major challenges for mankind this century. It is believed that the driving force behind these changing weather events is the rise in C02 levels caused by the burning of fossil fuels, be it oil, coal or gas. Carbon Dioxide is a naturally occurring gas in the atmosphere but a significant rise has been seen in the past thirty years. It is believed that it has been due mainly to human activity where the burning of fossil fuels is an integral part of the energy generation process. Too much C02 in the atmosphere provokes the Greenhouse Effect, meaning the Earth’s heat is trapped in the atmosphere preventing it from escaping out into space.

Consequently, a rise in the Earth's atmospheric and ocean temperatures happens. An average rise of 2°C in the Earth’s temperature could have a serious effect on how global weather patterns may behave in the future. The outcome of extensive research shows clearly the link between C02 concentration in atmosphere and the Earth's surface temperature. The amount of Carbon and other Green House Gas emissions (GHG), that a person is responsible for, is called a 'Carbon Footprint'. Reducing a person's carbon footprint reduces the effect of Global Warming.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Sixth Assessment Report
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recently published its report, “Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis.” The IPCC is the international body responsible for ensuring policy-makers are updated accordingly on past, current and projected climatic trends. The report contains the starkest warnings yet about the influence of anthropogenic emissions on the environment. It is now unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, and biosphere have occurred. Observed increases in well-mixed greenhouse gas concentrations since around 1750 are unequivocally caused by human activities. C02 concentration is now the highest it has been in 2 million years. The full report can be accessed here.

Climate Change Adaptation Strategy
On 12th of September 2019, “Waterford City and County Council Climate Change Adaptation Strategy” was adopted by the elected members of Waterford City and County Council. The strategy will have a duration of 5 years and run until 2024 and be subject to a biannual review. The strategy was developed by the Environment Department of Waterford City and County Council. Support and guidance in the development of the strategy was provided by the “Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment” and the Eastern and Midlands Regional Climate Action Regional Offices. The strategy focuses on the implementation of adaptation measures, which ensures communities, and society as a whole, become resilient to the impacts and risks of climate change. Please see our dedicated section on the "Climate Change Adaptation Strategy", which can be downloaded from the following link.

National and International climate change policies
In 2015 one hundred and ninety six countries (including Ireland) signed up to "The Paris Agreement on Climate Change", aimed to limit global temperature rising 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The European Union adopted the objective to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels. The fixed target for 2020 and 2030 are 20% and 40% of greenhouse gas emission reduction. Additional agreed targets for 2030 includes:

  • A total of 27% of the energy requirements is to come from renewable energy technologies by 2030.
  • A target of 27% improvements in energy efficiency by 2030.

  • Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021
    Ireland intends to reduce its carbon emissions and react to climate change by way of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021. It is intended that this amended version of the 2015 Act will facilitate transition to a “climate resilient, biodiversity rich, environmentally sustainable and climate neutral economy.” A target of 51% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 has also been set. Under the Act, it will be the responsibility of WCCC to formulate a local climate action plan for the city and county within 12 months of the Minister’s request. WCCC will be assisted in its efforts to establish a climate action plan by the Eastern and Midlands Climate Action Regional Office, which will issue guidance documents and help facilitate staff training where necessary.

    National Mitigation Plan 2017
    The first "National Mitigation Plan" represents an initial step to set us on a pathway to achieve the levels of decarbonisation required. This Plan not only contains measures to address the challenge to 2020, but also begins the process of sustainable development for the medium to long term, where the necessary actions will be taken in the next and future decades. It does not represent a complete roadmap, but rather is a work in progress reflecting the reality of the current state of the decarbonisation transition. The plan is considered as a tool to generate more cost-effective mitigation options.

    National Adaptation Framework
    The Government "National Planning Framework", which is in development, will quantify the measures for the implementation of Climate Change Adaptation measures. Waterford City and County within its administrative area are currently and in the future will implement measures highlighted within "The National Planning Framework" to reduce the vulnerability of Waterford to the negative effects of climate change. These measures include flood barriers, flood plains, drainage works, improved water quality and enhancement in the protection of bio-diversity.

    A successful transition to a low-carbon economy requires a bottom-up approach, from the Local Authorities to the Government, to promote awareness and implement projects across Ireland. To date, Waterford City & County Council is currently implementing and planning a range of measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  • WCCC plans to partake in a public lighting national energy efficiency retro fit programme with the replacement of old street lighting fittings with more efficiency LED lighting in 2019. These works will include the retro-fitting of approximately 13,000 light fittings.
  • WCCC has installed a range of renewable energy technologies at Local Authority sites, such as wind turbines at the Civic amenity site in Tramore and Dungarvan, solar PV at the Civic Office of Tramore, air source heat pumps at Dunmore East Depot housing units and Combined Heat and Power plants at the Kingfisher Club and solar water heating in a number of buildings.
  • The burning of methane from landfill gas helps reduce the Greenhouse Gas emissions, at the three landfills in Waterford City, Tramore and Dungarvan. In fact, the methane’s Global Warming Potential is twenty four times higher than the carbon dioxide emitted during combustion of the landfill gas.
  • Through the implementation of schemes to promote sustainable transport such as "Dungarvan Smarter Travel" and "Greenway", WCCC is improving cycle and pedestrian walkways which acts as an alternative to motive transport.
  • The construction of wetlands at Dungarvan and Tramore landfills acts as a carbon sink, where leachate from the landfill and Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere is absorbed by the constructed wetlands.
  • WCCC have increased the rate of waste recycling of glass (19 tonnes), farm film plastic (87 tonnes), electronic equipment (48 tonnes) and fluorescent tubes.
  • Old fridges/freezers are collected at the WCCC Civic amenity sites in Dungarvan and Waterford City. The fridges/freezers are removed from site where CFC and HCFC are extracted by the specialist contractor. The implementation of this measure eliminates the release of harmful greenhouse gases, which also damage the ozone layer in the atmosphere.
  • What I can do?
    The following are several ways that a person can reduce their “Carbon footprint” and impact on global warming.

  • Improve the energy rating of my home. For further information, see
  • Use the bike, rather than the car. The "Bike to Work Scheme" is a government initiative whereby an employee can pay for a new bicycle and equipment through weekly or monthly deductions from their salary and not pay tax on these items. Cycling every day also improves health.
  • Using public transport, where available, has less climate change impact than using a car. This saves on fuel, as well as reducing CO2 emissions.
  • The purchasing of appliances 'A' rated appliances, which use less energy in operation. Old appliances can be brought to the Civic Amenity Centres for recycling or collected for recycling by vendor.
  • Reducing water usage. Water conservation has now become an important issue because of the costs involved in the provision and treatment of water.
  • Buy a more fuel efficient car, because its emissions are lower. By upgrading to a newer model, you can get the benefit of lower CO2 emissions and better fuel efficiency. The purchasing of an electric vehicle is also so an option, with lower running costs and government grant assistance.
  • The reduction in waste generation has significant environmental benefits.
  • Handbook on Climate Change Adaption and Mitigation
    WCCC Environment section in conjunction with Waterford Energy Bureau have released this twenty four page handbook on “Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation” for council staff and the general public. The booklet was developed to help a greater understanding of the causes and effects of climate change, on our society, and what can be done by “All” to help reduce our carbon footprint. The handbook provides a useful document that can be referenced when deciding on measures to combat the challenges faced as a result of our ever changing climate. This is completed by laying out simple guiding principles and actions which can be implemented and adapted by the entire community at home and in the work place. This is achieved through thirteen case studies covering various measures which are very applicable for the general public to implement.

    The booklet begins by looking at what fossil fuels are; what the causes of climate change are, such as, the burning of fossil fuels. It also explains at what the carbon cycle is and how it plays a role in climate change. Furthermore it moves on to describe “climate tipping points” which is where the climate transitions from one stable state to another. These are usually irreversible.

    Achieving a low carbon society by 2050 is possible with the implementation of Adaptation and Mitigation measures such as the mentioned, case studies at reducing waste and implementing energy efficient measures. A example of which include reducing food wastage; water conservation, implementing energy efficiency measures in the home and the energy rating of house hold appliances, upgrading to hybrid/EV’s etc. The case studies within the booklet all have an environmental benefit. Download this handbook below.

  • Climate Change Handbook

  • The Covenant of Mayors
    WCCC has been a signatory to the EU initiative, the Covenant of Mayors (CoM), since the 10th of October 2019. The CoM is considered “the world’s largest movement for local climate and energy actions.” Signatories to the Covenant seek to ensure the acceleration of decarbonisation in their territories, an ever-strengthening capacity to adapt to and mitigate against climate change impacts and to allow their citizens access to a safe, secure, greener future. WCCC is one of over 9,000 local and regional authorities across 57 countries committed to the Covenant.