Climate Heroes take down emissions – one action at a time

Ukrainian team soars to success in nationwide climate competition, showing the power of citizen action for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Ukrainian team soars to success in nationwide climate competition, showing the power of citizen action for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Community groups all over Ireland who assembled in a unique competition have achieved huge reductions in their greenhouse gas emissions by making small lifestyle changes.

During two weeks in April, volunteers from community groups in 17 counties teamed up to combat consumption and take small steps to change their lives, their communities and the world.

These friendly neighbourhood volunteers – among them Tidy Towns groups, community centres, and residents associations – took part in the nationwide Climate Heroes competition organised by Global Action Plan. A total of 443 people competed in 59 teams to reduce their carbon footprint by the largest amount.

By their combined efforts, they prevented a total of 43 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions being released, roughly equal to the emissions from powering a house for 8.5 years.

Between 15 and 26 April, teams logged daily climate-smart actions and small lifestyle changes on an online platform that tracked their impact. They selected these actions from a menu of 40 activities, which had been assigned average emissions rates and were themed around transportation, food, shopping, and energy. Participants could see the consequences of their actions in real time, compare them against their teammates and other groups, and visualise how small actions taken collectively can pack a powerful punch.

The overall victors were the Climate4You team from Fingal. Their 46 members, most of whom originate from Ukraine, prevented the emissions of an impressive 6,018 kg of CO2e – roughly equal to the emissions of driving 1,432 cars for one year. For comparison, Irish emissions, per capita, were 11.9 tonnes CO2eq/person in 2022.

The Coast Climate Champions from Fingal came second, and Lorcan Estate Residents Association from Santry came third.

Speaking on behalf of the winning team, Olena Korniets said: “Winning this challenge reflects not only our team’s hard work but also Ukrainians’ awareness and commitment to both education and environmental stewardship. It’s thrilling to see how initiatives like this empower people of all ages to engage in learning the English language while nurturing a deep sense of responsibility towards our planet from a very young age.”

Olena went on to say: “As we bask in the joy of this victory, we’re excited to unveil our next ambitious dream: advocating for a nationwide ban on chewing gum as a bold step towards a greener, cleaner future. Together, let’s continue championing meaningful change and shaping a better world for generations to come. Ukrainians will win the battle for the world!”

Other teams used the competition to engage their families and neighbours in climate action. Aisling Doogue, secretary of the Lorcan Estates Residents Association, said:

“As a relatively new group we were thrilled to take on the challenge of promoting sustainability. And we enjoyed involving our families in the challenge too. By encouraging friendly competition at home, we’ve raised awareness and inspired others to reduce their carbon footprint. We believe that small changes add up to big results for our environment. Together, we’re proving that everyone can help fight climate change and build a better future.”

Supported by funding from Irish Aid, the competition was accompanied by webinars that explored the global dimension of climate change and spotlighted the amazing local work of citizens across Ireland.

“Our Climate Heroes have reduced their carbon footprints significantly, and more importantly have built a sense of collective engagement, community and empowerment. Their enthusiasm and dedication underscores the vital role of individual and collective actions in addressing the climate crisis,” said Alex Whyatt, Global Citizenship Coordinator at Global Action Plan.

“In our webinars, we saw the amazing work that groups across the country are doing to make their communities more sustainable, inclusive and future-focused. That the winning group are from Ukraine also underscores the valuable contribution that new arrivals make to their host country,” Whyatt concluded.

Reflecting on the broader impact of the challenge, Hans Zomer, CEO at Global Action Plan, expressed gratitude to all participants, noting:

“The actions of the hundreds of people that took part in this unique challenge serve as an inspiration to us all. Sometimes global problems such as climate change can be overwhelming, but the people who took part in the the Climate Heroes showed that each and every one of us has the power to effect meaningful change.”

“As the world confronts the urgent imperative of climate action, volunteers like  these Climate Heroes give us hope and show what can be achieved if we work together.”