An Taisce unveils a “missing link” solution for community participation in Low Carbon Planning at the recent ‘Picnic in the Park’ festival within Maynooth’s Harbour Field Park.

Around 1500 people attended this year’s Maynooth Community Festival, which was opened by Professor John Sweeney, Emeritus Professor of Geography at Maynooth University.

The festival featured the “Sustainability Hub” where environmental workshops, information stands, musicians, and even climate stand-up comedians entertained, informed … and were informed by the public. This provided an ideal opportunity to show-trial a novel tool that has been developed by An Taisce to greatly accelerate community involvement with local authority low carbon planning.

As part of An Taisce’s EU LIFE funded; Legacy4LIFE Project, a new Green Communities Low Carbon Calculator will allow individuals to interact with and forecast their community Greenhouse Gas emissions. This will provide them with a direct visualisation of the likely impact of future climate actions upon their current community level emissions.

Developed as part of a new An Taisce Green Communities Low Carbon Planning initiative, this online community carbon calculator can be tailored to specific communities across the country. It provides a much more detailed local resolution of emissions than was previously feasible. An extensive view of local emission sources is provided, along with their current values. The calculator also provides forecasts of the improvements that could be delivered by the whole community when a climate action improvement is implemented at scale. This will assist with community engagement by allowing users to understand the degree to which different activities contribute to the community's carbon footprint, and it will provide a starting point from which informed decisions can be made by communities.

This low carbon planning tool is being trialled over the summer at Maynooth in County Kildare and has been developed with the assistance of Kildare County Council Climate Action Office, and Maynooth University. Speaking at the opening of the “Picnic in the Park” festival, Professor John Sweeney pointed out that:

"An Taisce is pleased to acknowledge the excellent collaboration received from staff in Kildare County Council, Maynooth University, and all those associated with An Taisce's Green Campus initiative in the development of the carbon calculator. This will provide the people of Maynooth with an indication of the pathway to a lower carbon future for the town, something essential for the present and future citizens and students of Maynooth and Ireland. Maynooth can be a leader in this challenge and help shape its own future. There is probably no town in Ireland better equipped to make informed decisions about choosing a future, given its rich educational assets and data sources, its historical and current diversity, and its long-standing tradition of climate awareness."

The Green Communities Low Carbon Calculator will assist the public by interpreting and visualising Local Authority Climate Action Plans for a low carbon future at their own local level. This will allow communities to explore their low carbon options and preferences within a framework that fits in with the local authority and national planning initiatives for climate action. It will provide a visual forecast of what local emissions currently look like, and what they could look like. 

According to Robert Moss, An Taisce Legacy4LIFE Green Communities Lead:

“We are trying to engage citizens with planning their low carbon future, rather than being passive recipients. This new Green Communities Low Carbon Plan, and its Carbon Calculator, will allow for a much more dynamic process of community engagement with decarbonisation. It allows individuals to look into the future at realistic estimates of what can be delivered by their own community. It also allows the public from any given community to vote for their preferred decarbonisation activity, and for these preferences to then guide and inform the future direction of local authority climate action planning. This seems a much more joined-up way of exploring what the community wants for its low carbon future than by simply holding a public consultation for a limited period of time every 3 years or so.”

An Taisce hopes to expand its Green Communities Low Carbon Planning project to other communities in Ireland beyond 2023. Ultimately, the launch of a national community low carbon planning initiative will assist with active participation by the public in climate action and low carbon development. Green Communities Low Carbon Planning has been developed to complement Local Authority Climate Action Plans, Decarbonisation Zones, and the Irish Environmental Protection Agency's National Inventory Reports, so as to work with these national assets.

Green Communities Low Carbon Planning provides an ideal template for communities to work with multiple stakeholders in delivering low carbon plans for low carbon communities. 

Active participation in climate action, and by extension support and tolerance, requires a sense of agency. Green Communities will assist in avoiding climate action plan fatigue and confusion, while also encouraging cross sectoral collaboration in meeting our climate action emission goals.

To view An Taisce’s Green Communities promotional video, please visit:

For high-resolution images please visit:

For further information please make contact using the details below.

E-mail: [email protected] 

Telephone:  087 4623302


Notes for Editor:

Legacy4LIFE is a programme developed by An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland, to develop community-based supports for Ireland’s natural environment with a focus 󠅲on low carbon planning, ecosystem 󠅲resilience, and biodiversity enhancement.

The €0.5m programme is funded by the EU LIFE programme - the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action - alongside the European Climate Foundation, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communication.

The development of the programme was initiated by Professor John Sweeney, Emeritus Professor of Geography at Maynooth University as a direct contribution by Ireland to the new European Green Deal approved in 2020.

The Legacy4LIFE programme comprises three distinct strands - Pond Biodiversity, Advancing "Farm to Fork", and Green Communities Low Carbon Planning

The Green Communities Low Carbon Plan works with 7 emission themes. These are based on the 6 emission sectors of the National Climate Action Plans, plus the additional theme of Just Transition. Surveys and Sectoral Meetings will simultaneously engage with the following 3 societal sectors:

  • Agricultural
  • Commercial
  • Community

The Green Communities Low Carbon Calculator displays the different emission topic values within the Electoral Division. Utilising the most recent census and emission data the calculator allows users to see the total greenhouse gas emissions of their Electoral Division, and the different emission sources and component share of this total. Most importantly the Carbon Calculator allows community members visibility on what their intended emission interventions might deliver collectively and at scale across Maynooth Electoral Division. This allows residents to interact with the Green Communities Low Carbon Plan, and the Decarbonisation Zone Strategy in the following ways:

  1. Input of household intervention intentions over the next 12 months:

Residential dwelling retrofit upgrades to a B2 or higher BER, Energy interventions (solar, etc), Electric Vehicle purchase, etc.

  1. Input of preferred interventions across other societal sectors:

Land Use, Agriculture, Waste, Waste Water, Utility Energy Interventions, etc.

The Carbon Calculator will take input choices and scale them up to Electoral Division level savings. This will help inform community preference and choice as to the preferred emission theme interventions which can then be captured within the Carbon Calculator. In turn these preferences will determine the priorities and focus of the Green Communities Low Carbon Plan.

The Maynooth ‘Picnic in the Park’ festival was organised by Kildare County Council and Maynooth Community Council, providing a free information event on Sunday 18th June from 2pm – 5pm at The Harbour Field, Maynooth. See: