There's a real danger that the 'code red' alert this week from the United Nations on global warming will be seen by Seán and Sinéad Public as no more than more hot air.

For despite the severity of the warning and the seriousness of the threat from our rapidly-overheating planet, many folks may be left with the impression that sorting this problem is the business of government rather than the concern of individuals, families and communities.

And such a disconnect between the scale of the crisis and the urgency for action at governmental and grassroots level can only play to the interests of the flat-earthers (not a few in the senior ranks of the DUP) who believe that global warming is a hoax. 

That's why it's important that all our community leaders — politicians, of course, but also sports champions and cultural ambassadors — have to make climate change a priority. Only in that way, will we get the local and global momentum to prevent the temperature of the earth from rising above the 1.5 degrees Celsius point of no return. 

Only vocal and united community demands will ensure that laggard government departments which have failed to recognise the threat from global warming will continue to fiddle while Rome — and California, Siberia, Greece and even the Black Mountain — burn. Society could do worse than take its lead from the young warriors who have been to the fore in highlighting the existential threat global warming poses to the planet's future. 

There is much to be done.

Our large government fleets — from buses to bin lorries — continue to run on polluting carbon fuels.

Safe bike lanes are virtually non-existent even as hundreds of millions are pumped into new roads.

Our electricity power stations continue to burn coal.

At a time when green and clean public transport is a recognised remedy for the noxious emissions from cars, we continue to build car parks in Belfast city centre. 

New housing developments continue to rely on fossil fuel heating despite the fact that 'natural' gas spews methane which is 80 more damaging to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. 

Shopping centres continue to be built in areas which are inaccessible to shoppers who don't have a car. 

And there is no Stormont Climate Tzar or lead minister to unite all government departments in the race to net zero. Indeed, Assembly members, already late to the climate change party (Stormont is wholly reliant on fossil fuels for its heating and a three-day-camel ride for anyone without a car) are faced with competing climate change bills. 

What then can the community do while the government gets its act together? A lot. In Lahti, Finland, Europe's green capital, just one per cent of household waste goes to landfill. In Belfast the rate is 24 per cent. We can all play a greater personal role in cutting  down household waste.

But there is a need also for flagship projects to galvanise the entire community. Could the new Casement Park be the first net zero sports stadium in Europe? Could the entire black taxi fleet, so often denied government support, leapfrog the Glider and move to hydrogen vehicles under a Department of Infrastructure pilot scheme? Could Féile an Phobail move to a no waste (including plastic ponchos!) policy in 2021?

These and a thousand other ideas to end emissions and save the planet will be needed in the time ahead to ensure that the new Ireland we desire is also a green Ireland.