This coming year could be the green year for local authorities and businesses. Fuel efficient cars will be in vogue, cycling will become fashionable and we will become aware of our carbon foot print. In the future we are all going to learn more about green issues.

The Irish have been making progress at proper waste disposal and Waterford is one of the best counties in Ireland for waste repackaging and separation of waste. Can we get people to get out of their cars and cycle? Can we get the young to cycle more?

Climate change is in vogue and the Bali conference suggested more co-operation from America. Most people agree that the climate is changing rapidly and something must be done and personal sacrifices made.

What can you do as an individual to make a small contribution, even if it is only to walk a little more rather than drive to the shops? Instead of driving to school with the kids, could they walk or cycle instead some days, especially in fine weather? Can you use public transport more? These are just some of the points that people can address on a local level.

Local authorities are to encourage more public transport, Bus Eireann is expanding the number of bus routes, the Suirway Bus Service has been overhauled with new vehicles. The Government has a major challenge in implementing a climate change plan. They will have to enforce individual measures and department targets.

The Department of the Environment may need to be expanded with a new office set up for this purpose. Hopefully, that could be decentralised also.

Europe is taking the lead in this solution, although Ireland is behind our Continental neighbours, the Danes and Dutch seem to be leading.

The Danes are pioneers on wind energy and other alternatives, the Dutch are strong on saving energy.

If we in the south east could create a niche and become an energy innovator,

it could be a catalyst for new job creation. The IDA and local authorities could create a lead this year and strive to be the top region for energy innovation and saving, thus attracting new business.

This will be an interesting challenge in the years ahead.