A Just Transition for Ireland
A Just Transition for Ireland means exploring opportunities to green existing jobs, and creating new jobs in areas specific to the country’s economy and environment such as energy retrofitting for buildings, sustainable forestry and peatland restoration etc.
The Committee on Climate Action was established to consider the third report and recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly entitled How the State can make Ireland a Leader in tackling Climate Change. One of the Committee on Climate Action central concerns is to make sure that climate actions are fair and that workers and communities are protected (Joint Committee on Climate Action, 2019). In this context, the Committee has published a report on its pre-legislative scrutiny of the Draft Climate Action and Low-Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2020. The purpose of the Draft Bill is to strengthen the statutory framework for more effective governance of the State’s climate objectives, including a Just Transition (Houses of the Oireachtas, 2020).
Ireland is one of the leading countries in Europe dealing with energy poverty, with one in four households consistently facing this issue (SILC, 2018). It has also invested significantly in the peat extraction industry upon which many workers rely to maintain their livelihoods. Learning from other member states policy and implementation challenges can allow us to implement appropriate and socially and environmentally fair policies (such as environmental taxes and work replacement policies) to tackle the climate crisis appropriately. This will also ensure that provisions (i.e. adequate public transport, access to low priced renewable energy, improving BER standards for private rental households etc.) are implemented to allow us to transition successfully without leaving anyone behind.
The recently published National Climate Action Plan commits the State to carefully examining the impacts on low-income and rural households and those experiencing fuel poverty, as well as broader distributional impacts, from increases in carbon taxes. It also aims to identify ways to improve how current energy poverty schemes target those most in need, and aspires to make them as efficient as possible (Government of Ireland, 2019).
Workers will need to be supported in becoming adaptive to shifting industry processes through the provision of adequate training in up-skilling and re-skilling programmes. Support for citizens through this transition is already happening in Ireland through the implementation of certain policies and initiatives.
Future Ireland is a new economic pathway launched by the government to maintain a resilient, innovative and globally connected Irish economy while in transition to a low carbon economy. It aims to increase labour force participation, embrace innovation and technological change, improve productivity, enhance skills and create talent in order to ensure the country is well positioned to exploit economic opportunities in the future.
A just transition (worker and community environmental rights bill) was passed in 2018 to establish the National Just Transition Commission that overlooked the bringing together of communities, workers, employers and the government in an open dialogue to develop required plans, policies and investments for a just transition to a low carbon economy. This council works to develop policy recommendations relating to “Transition Teams” that are currently managing the impact of transition for those already most affected by the changes (Government of Ireland, 2019).
To learn more on what a Just transition means for Ireland please see chapter 2 of the ‘Report of the Joint Committee on Climate Action Climate Change: A Cross-Party Consensus for Action’ here.
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