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Memorandum of Understanding on Cultural Heritage and Climate Action Between Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage & Historic Environment Scotland

Published on Wednesday, 23 Dec 2020
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The Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, TD, today welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Cultural Heritage and Climate Action between the Heritage Division of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and Historic Environment Scotland.

Minister Noonan said ‘Ireland and Scotland have long-standing and close cultural, political, economic, and community ties, and both the Government of Ireland and the Scottish Government are committed to deepening Irish-Scottish cooperation.’

He continued ‘It is an action of my Department’s Sectoral Adaptation Plan to cooperate actively with international partners and I welcome the opportunity the Memorandum of Understanding will give us to share knowledge, experiences, data and best practices with our friends and colleagues in Scotland in order to protect our cultural heritage and tackle climate change.’

David Mitchell, Head of Conservation at Historic Environment Scotland (HES), said: “Climate change threatens the historic environment in Scotland and Ireland in very similar ways, and it is crucial that we work together to face these shared challenges.

“I’m very pleased to welcome this Memorandum of Understanding which will strengthen our partnership with Irish colleagues and provide new opportunities to share our expertise as we continue working to better understand and address the impacts of climate change on our historic places.”

Climate change is one of the most urgent and significant threats facing cultural heritage globally today. Ireland and Scotland share similar hazards: both are exposed to more intense storms, coastal erosion and sea-level rise along Atlantic coastlines, while our northern climates now experience increased precipitation in winter and increased risk of drought in summer. Irish and Scottish archaeological sites and monuments and architectural heritage share many characteristics in their materials and construction methods.

Cultural heritage assets need to increase their resilience and reduce their vulnerability to climate change. They also need to play a part in mitigating climate change through increased energy efficiency and reduced carbon-dioxide emissions. The challenge faced is to formulate strategies that create a balance between the reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions and the protection of cultural heritage.

In the face of climate change, the need for transboundary cooperation is increasingly imperative. Both the Government of Ireland and the Scottish Government have declared a climate emergency and recognise the central role that cultural heritage can play in driving climate action and in supporting communities to make a just transition towards climate resilience. The commitment of both governments to address the role of cultural heritage in climate action is represented in the recent publications of HES’s Climate Action Plan (2020-25) and DHLGH’s Built and Archaeological Heritage Climate Change Sectoral Adaptation Plan (2019).