Social Democrats spokesperson on Climate Change, Jennifer Whitmore TD, has welcomed today’s publication of the Climate Action Bill. However, she said it must be poverty and disability-proofed to ensure a just transition as part of our carbon reduction journey so that no workers or communities are left behind.

Deputy Whitmore said:

“This Bill has been a long-awaited development since climate change was first mentioned as an issue in Ireland in the early 1990s. A lot of time has been wasted since, which makes this Bill a very important first step in seriously addressing climate change.

“While I acknowledge many new and improved additions to this piece of legislation, it is not as progressive as it needs to be to meet our climate action ambitions.

“Being effective and ambitious means providing a basis for a just transition. Unfortunately, just transition is largely excluded from the text of the Bill, which I believe is not a good start to our climate action journey.

“The Bill includes provision for a new Climate Action Agency, which will feed its recommendations to the Government in the drafting of budget and sectoral plans. It is important that membership of this agency has a broad representation and it has to include ecological expertise.

“Furthermore, it must represent diverse voices and address the concerns of those most vulnerable to climate change and adaptation – for instance, stakeholders from the disability sector or organisations dealing with poverty reduction.

“Securing more diversity in the agency’s representation will help secure a more just transition and will bring people together in aiming for a low carbon economy. Until we have that, we are risk of developing targets and sectoral plans which overlook the concerns of those most vulnerable to climate change measures.

“This in turn could lead to a disenfranchisement and disconnection in our overall response to climate change.

“A just transition should also include sectors that will be most impacted by climate change reduction, such as agriculture. Climate adaptation and mitigation will affect us all but it doesn’t have to impact on us unequally.

“I will use my role on the Committee for Climate Action to bring home the need to incorporate a just transition within the text of the Bill and when, enacted, through the workings of the Climate Action Agency.”

October 7, 2020

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