Climate bill needs ‘stronger focus on just transition’

The Social Democrats’ spokesperson on climate change Jennifer Whitmore has said the new climate bill must be “poverty and disability-proofed to ensure a just transition as part of our carbon journey so that no workers or communities are left behind”.

The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2020 was published this week and while deputy Whitmore acknowledges that it is a long-awaited development, 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 deputy said.

“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.

“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 at 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.”

The deputy says that a just transition should “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.”

Climate bill does not set emission targets for agriculture

Meanwhile, the Department for Communications, Climate Action and Environment confirmed to AgriLand that under the bill, there will not be emission targets for agriculture, only carbon budgets.

“While the bill sets out the process for defining carbon budgets, it does not prescribe emission levels for each five-year carbon budget or sectoral targets,” a spokesperson for the department said.

Through its strengthened role, the Climate Change Advisory Council will propose three five-year economy-wide carbon budgets, which will be considered and adopted by government, which will consult with the Oireachtas.

“The government, through a consultative approach, will then determine how to apply the carbon budget across the relevant sectors, and what each sector will contribute in a given five-year period, as well as outlining actions for each sector in the updated Climate Action Plan.”