Social Democrats TD for Wicklow, Jennifer Whitmore, has called for proper consultation with groups representing people living in poverty and disability organisations when climate action policies are being developed.

Deputy Whitmore, who is the party’s spokesperson on Climate, made her comments following the recent publication of the Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy by Minister Eamon Ryan.

Deputy Whitmore said:

“While I welcome initiatives to reduce waste and address climate change, it struck me that consultation was not carried out with disability representatives or groups that work with people living in poverty before the action plan was published last week.

“This was despite the establishment of an advisory body for consultation purposes, comprising 36 groups which ranged broadly from the Restaurants Association of Ireland to the Soil Recovery Association.

“To my knowledge, groups representing vulnerable people were not consulted or represented, despite the huge impact anti-waste policies can have on certain sections of society.

“The lack of consultation with these groups represents a glaring gap in the minister’s plan and there is limited focus on the impact the document will have on those least able to afford a transition to a low carbon economy.

“Without proper consultation on our climate action policies, we risk accelerating poverty and further disadvantaging people with disabilities. And while there will be an opportunity to engage later in the process at the legislative stage, it is also important that their voices and concerns feed into the policy process at the initial stages.

“In pursuit of climate action policies, we need to be careful that we do not negatively impact on those least flexible to changes. As we transition to a low-carbon economy, we must ensure we leave no one behind.

“Any internal advisory groups or steering groups must include representatives of those living in poverty or people with a disability if we are to achieve a just transition.”

September 7, 2020

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