Multi-level climate policies in Ireland


  • Jackie S. McGloughlin National University of Ireland, Maynooth
  • John Sweeney National University of Ireland, Maynooth



Global greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise even though there are binding international agreements and national commitments for emission reductions. While some states and local governments around the world are taking action to reduce emissions and adapt to the inevitable climate change impacts, overall collective goals are not being realised and this implementation gap may be due to multi-level governance failures. To date there has been limited research of Irish climate measures, with a significant gap at the sub-national level. This research explores whether city and county councils are the lowest most effective level for climate change actions in Ireland through a nationwide survey and a review of all relevant government policies at local, regional and national levels. The study reveals that local climate measures are isolated best-practice examples rather than being widespread throughout the country. This study concludes that there is limited vertical integration among Irish government levels as evidenced by survey responses from local authority staff members, limited incorporation of higher-level objectives into local policy documents, and limited details in national level policies as to local level implementation. Similar to municipalities in other countries, Irish local authorities face challenges which are hindering their advancement of climate measures. If the higher-level collective goals are to be achieved in Ireland, the national government will need to drive forward the climate change agenda with formalised commitments and mandatory local implementation.

Author Biographies

Jackie S. McGloughlin, National University of Ireland, Maynooth

Department of Geography

John Sweeney, National University of Ireland, Maynooth

Department of Geography



How to Cite

McGloughlin, J. S., & Sweeney, J. (2014). Multi-level climate policies in Ireland. Irish Geography, 44(1), 137–150.


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