The Government must commit to a just transition climate change model to ensure that low-income families are not plunged deeper into fuel poverty, according to Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Deputy Whitmore, who is the party’s spokesperson for Climate Action and Biodiversity, said:

“Energy poverty remains a huge problem in Ireland, particularly during the pandemic as incomes have been reduced and more people are working from home. This is a problem that will persist as we transition to a zero-carbon economy.

“We can mitigate this by poverty-proofing climate action and by establishing a just transition model. What NGOs have persistently advocated for is that when we make the transition to a zero-carbon economy, people on low incomes must be able to afford their minimum energy needs.

“A central tenet of any just transition model must be that climate action does not fall disproportionately on low-income households and that resources to mitigate climate change are equally shared across all sections of society in a sustainable manner. Those on low incomes, both at home and abroad, are more likely to feel the impact of climate change, such as flooding and drought, and be exposed to air pollution, poor water quality and water contamination, as well as energy poverty.

“Acting now on energy poverty in Ireland will help us to avoid future long-term social, health, environmental and economic costs associated with climate change. It will also benefit us all if we tackle energy poverty as it will raise the energy standards of our homes.

“The impact of Covid-19 can be viewed as a test of the economic disruption we want to avoid as a county as we transition to a zero-carbon economy. It will also reveal how serious the Government is in its commitment to a fair just transition approach away from a fossil fuel economy.”

February 3, 2021

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