First Meeting on How the State Can Make Ireland a Leader in Tackling Climate Change

The Assembly met on the weekend of 30 September - 1 October 2017 for the first of two weekends on the topic how the State Can Make Ireland a Leader in Tackling Climate Change.

Agenda for first meeting of the Citizens' Assembly on how the State Can Make Ireland a Leader in Tackling Climate Change

Saturday's Proceedings

The Chair's, The Honourable Mary Laffoy, opening speech to the Assembly on the Saturday morning is available to read here

Session 1:The Science of Climate Change

Conor is a Lecturer in the Department of Geography at Maynooth University, having graduated with his PhD in 2007. Since its inception in 2008 Conor has been course director for the MSc Climate Change at Maynooth University.  His research interests are broad ranging with a particular focus on Modelling impacts of climate change, quantifying uncertainty and exploring how uncertainty in future impacts can be integrated into decision making, the detection and attribution of climate change signals from observations and the reconstruction and analysis of long term records of key climate variables and understanding the social dynamics of adaptation to climate change.

Conor sits on the National Adaptation Committee and has acted as expert reviewer for reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

 Dr. Murphy's delivery of his paper on "The Science of Climate Change" was accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Dr. Murphy's  presentation to the Assembly can be watched back here.

Session 2: Climate Change in a broader Environmental Context
  • Ms. Laura Burke (Environmental Protection Agency) 

Laura Burke is the Director General of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ireland. In 2017 Laura was elected Chair of the European Environment Agency (EEA) Management Board.  Laura is also the Chair to the Societal Challenge 5 Advisory Group for Horizon 2020.  Prior to joining the EPA, she worked in the private sector.

Laura is a graduate chemical engineer of University College Dublin (UCD), holds an MSc from Trinity College, Dublin and is a Chartered Director.  In 2016 Laura was awarded the UCD Engineering Graduates Association Distinguished Graduate Award.

Ms. Burke's paper delivery of her paper prepared for the Assembly was accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Ms Burke's presentation can be watched back here and a transcript of the presentation is available to read here.

Session 3: Tackling climate change- current efforts in Ireland and Internationally

Joseph Curtin is Senior Fellow for climate policy at the Institute of International and European Affairs and a Research Fellow at the Environmental Research Institute, UCC. He is also a member of the Government’s climate change advisory council. He has researched and written extensively on topics including international climate negotiations, EU climate policy, Irish climate policy, and how to engage citizens with low carbon transition. He is a graduate of London School of Economics and Trinity College Dublin. 

Mr. Curtin's delivery of his paper on "Ireland’s International Climate Commitments & Domestic Actions to Reduce Emissions" was accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Mr Curtin's presentation to the Assembly can be watched back here.

Session 4: The Impact of Climate Change- International Evidence and Experience

Peter is the Acting Director of the Met Office Hadley Centre (MOHC) and Professor of Detection and Attribution at the University of Exeter. As well as overseeing the scientific direction of the MOHC, Peter represents the MOHC to UK Government Sponsors, particular BEIS and Defra, who fund the core science programme on behalf of UK Government. Peter is also Lead on scientific co-ordination of the Climate Science for Services Partnership China (CSSP China), a research programme that is bringing together the best of UK and Chinese climate research for climate services.

Peter is an expert in the attribution of climate change to anthropogenic and natural causes and his previous role was the Scientific Strategic Head for the Climate Monitoring and Attribution areas within the MOHC. Peter was involved in the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as a Contributing Author and was heavily involved in the production of the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC as a Lead Author for both the Working Group 1 report on the Physical Science Basis and the Synthesis Report, which in addition covers impacts, adaptation and mitigation. He was Coordinating Lead Author for Chapter 10 (Detection and attribution of climate change: from global to regional) of the Working Group 1 of IPCC AR5.

Prof. Stott's delivery of his paper on "The Impact of Climate Change: International Evidence and Experience" was accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Prof. Stott's presentation to the Assembly can be watched back here.

Session 5: Current Status of Climate in Ireland

Saji Varghese studied B.Sc. (Physics) and M.Sc. (Meteorology) in India.  He obtained his Ph.D. in longwave radiation modelling from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, also from India in 2003.  He worked at NUI, Galway from 2004 on regional climate modelling, air-quality modelling and development of a volcanic ash forecasting system for Ireland until he joined Met Éireann in 2011.  Since 2016, he has been the Head of Research, Environment and Applications Division in Met Éireann. His research interests include near-surface thermal environment, radiative transfer theory and modelling, climate/ air-quality modelling, volcanic-ash forecasting, meteorological instrumentation and post-processing of forecast data.

Mr Varghese's delivery of his paper on "Current Status of Climate in Ireland" was accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Mr. Varghese's presentation to the Assembly can be watched back here .

Session 6: National Mitigation Plan and Draft Adaptation Framework and Session 7: National Dialogue on Climate Change

Brian Carroll is the Assistant Secretary General leading the Climate Action and Environment function at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment. Brian joined the Department in 2008, and worked as Assistant Secretary General for Natural Resources, Head of Decarbonisation and Head of Finance and Corporate Affairs before taking up his current role. He has wide experience across the public service, having also worked in the Departments of Finance, Foreign Affairs and Justice. Brian holds degrees in business, anthropology and economics, and is a graduate of University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, the Institute of Public Administration, and the Dublin Business School.

Mr Brian Carroll's delivery of his paper on "National Mitigation Plan and Draft National Adaptation Framework" was accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Mr. Carroll's presentation to the Assembly can be back here.

The presentation on the National Dialogue on Climate Action was also presented by Mr. Brian Carroll* and is available to watch back here. This was followed by a roundtable discussion among the Members where they deliberated on ways the National Dialogue can engage citizens. The Members views were publically presented in a feedback session. The transcript of this session is available to read here and can be watched back here

After the event, the Secretariat prepared a document summarising the key points made by the Members during the feedback session

* Mr Pat Gilroy was unable to attend the Citizens' Assembly due to personal circumstances.

Sunday's Proceedings

On Sunday, the Citizens' Assembly heard from the following speakers:

Sectoral Sessions: Energy

Session 1: How do I heat, power and service my home and place of work?
  • Ms. Marie Donnelly (Former Director Renewables, Research & Innovation and Energy Efficiency at DG Energy of the European Commission)

Throughout her thirty year career in the European Commission, Marie has been a leading advocate of future oriented policies and strategies – most recently to accelerate the energy transition. As the Director for Renewables, Energy Efficiency and Innovation, at DG Energy in the European Commission, she formulated key elements of the ‘Clean Energy for All Europeans’ package designed to put energy efficiency first, achieve global leadership in renewable energies and provide a fair deal for consumers.

Marie is currently a member of the Governance Committee of MaREI, the marine and renewable energy research, development and innovation Centre supported by Science Foundation Ireland and coordinated by the Environmental Research Institute (ERI) at University College Cork. She is also serving on the Steering Committee of the  International Energy Research Centre (IERC), a state of the art facility established to implement new science in the energy space and hosted at the Tyndall Institute.

Ms. Marie Donnelly's delivery of her paper was accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Ms. Donnelly's presentation to the Assembly is available to watch back here.

Session 2: How would I heat, power and service my home and place of work if Ireland was a world leader?

Dr. Brian Motherway is Head of the Energy Efficiency Division at the International Energy Agency, overseeing a range of analytical and outreach programmes supporting energy efficiency globally. Prior to joining the IEA Brian was Chief Executive of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. Brian holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in engineering and a PhD in sociology.

Dr. Brian Motherway's delivery of his paper on "Making Ireland a leader in climate change – the future of energy" was accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Dr. Motherway's presentation to the Assembly can be watched back here .

Session 3: Energy Generation and Efficiency Examples
  • Mr. Paul Kenny (Tipperary Energy Agency)

Paul Kenny is the Chief Executive of the Tipperary Energy Agency, a non profit public good energy consultancy. Paul has worked in the sustainable energy field for 11 years and has worked on large retrofit programs, community wind farms, energy efficiency in the public sector and has been the driving force of the success of the national deep retrofit program Superhomes. Paul is a Chartered mechanical engineer with a 1st class honours degree from UCD and is currently finalising an MSc in energy from Heriot Watt in Edinborough. Paul is vice president of the Federation of European local and regional energy agencies and was recently named in the Irish Independent as one of Ireland’s top 20 people who would lead our response to climate change.

Mr. Paul Kenny's delivery of his paper was accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Mr Kenny's presentation to the Assembly can be watched back here.

Neil has spent the last nine years guiding and developing the public and private sectors to take actual steps to mitigate climate change using his new system – The GreenPlan. This has including high level round table talks with the European Union and International Governments; including the writing of two European Union Directives for Air Quality and Water use. In 2012, Kilbarrack Fire Station, Dublin, became the world’s first carbon neutral Fire Station by using Neil’s System. This reduced Dublin Fire Brigades energy demand by 44% way ahead of the 2020 targets.  As an Ashoka Fellow and Social Entrepreneur, Neil has developed deep scaling strategies and techniques to embed genuine sustainable development using actual actions to mitigate Climate Change. Recently, Neil has converted his work to a free online training course that gives communities globally, the toolkit, to create real impact, lower their carbon footprint and save money. Neil is still a full time Fireman and Paramedic with Dublin Fire Brigade.

Mr. Neil McCabe's delivery of his paper on "The Story of Kilbarrack Fire Station" accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Mr. McCabe's presentation to the Assembly can be watched back here.

  • Ms. Donna Garland (Codema)

Donna has worked at Codema-Dublin’s Energy Agency since 2013. She is a qualified electrician with a BEng in Energy and Environmental Engineering, and a MSc in Sustainable Energy Planning and Management from Aalborg University, Denmark. She is currently completing a PhD in Energy Engineering with the Energy Policy and Modelling Group in University College Cork. As Codema’s Strategic Sustainable Energy Planner, Donna has worked on monitoring and reporting the progress of the Sustainable Energy Action Plan for Dublin City in line with the EU’s Covenant of Mayors Initiative. Donna developed the first Spatial Energy Demand Analyses (SEDA) in Ireland for all four Dublin local authorities in order to integrate energy and spatial planning at a local level. Donna is also working on implementing the first large scale District Heating systems in Dublin with Dublin City and South Dublin County Councils, and is Technical Advisor on the EU Interreg North-West Europe project ‘HeatNet’. She is the lead author of the first national level ‘Guide to District Heating in Ireland’ report, funded by the SEAI. Donna is responsible for strategic, action-orientated, local level energy planning and development of energy policy.

Ms. Donna Gartland's delivery of her paper was accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Ms. Gartland's presentation to the Assembly can be watched back here.

The Chair's closing remarks at the end of the weekend are available here.   


Over the course of the weekend the Members engaged in roundtable discussions, with the assistance of facilitators at each table. Further details on the facilitation process are available here.

Each table was provided with the same conversation starters for each session. 


A list of Members at the first meeting on how the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change is available here