The Joint Oireachtas Committee on climate action visited Cloughjordan Ecovillage

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on climate action visited Cloughjordan Ecovillage recently as part of a wider field trip to explore the energy transition in Tipperary. The committee has been charged with coming up with proposals based on the 13 recommendations of the Citizens Assembly on climate change.
On a tour of the ecovillage resident Iva Pocock explained how low carbon living regenerates rural communities. At the vegetable collection point for Cloughjordan Community Farm, Ireland’s first community-supported farm, which has 70 members from the ecovillage and wider community, Iva told the politicians: “With the right support and funding every town and village in Ireland could have such a farm. Community-supported farms provide healthy, organic food, guarantee farmers’ incomes and nurture the soil.”

The visitors were shown how building within town boundaries supports a low-carbon society. “Our kids walk to school, we walk to the pub,” said Iva. “By building close to the shops and amenities we are encouraged and able to walk or cycle.” The strong culture of sharing, including lifts, was highlighted and the politicians’ attention drawn to the blocks placed on car-sharing by the insurance industry. “There are many creative car-sharing clubs across the continent of Europe but they seem to be hindered here in Ireland due to a conservative, restrictive industry,” said Iva, who encouraged the Committee to quiz the insurance industry as to what it is doing to facilitate low-carbon living.

Fellow tour guide Pa Finucane explained how the ecovillage is an educational charity which welcomes thousands of visitors every year, many of whom stay overnight.
The visiting TDs and Senator also heard how vital broadband is for low-carbon living. “It allows people to get away from carbon-intensive commuting and gives them the opportunity to work from home, even a couple of days a week,” said Iva. “Flexible, shared workspaces are also essential for a low-carbon future, as demonstrated by the ecovillage’s enterprise centre.”

The Joint Oireachtas Committee members who visited were  Sean Sherlock (Lab), Tom Neville (FG), Brian Stanley (SF), Thomas Pringle (Independent), John Lahart (FF) and Senator Ian Marshall, plus a number of researchers for other Committee members.

Before arriving in Cloughjordan they were given a tour of energy retrofitting projects carried out by Tipperary Energy Agency, a leading social enterprise focussed on the energy transition. Examples included a retrofitted home in Nenagh, Nenagh Leisure Centre, Ireland’s most energy efficient municipal swimming pool and sauna, and a refurbished school.

 

After a tour of the ecovillage Committee members had a late lunch in the local cooperative Middle Country Cafe and presentations from three other Tipperary entities which have been vital to creating the county’s pioneering low-carbon ecosystem: Limerick Institute of Technology, Energy Communities Tipperary Cooperative and Community Power.
Media coverage of the visit included an article and video by the Irish Times.
Committee on Climate Action
  Committee on Climate Action