MEP for Ireland South, Sean Kelly, will host a public meeting in Tullamore, Co. Offaly today (Thursday, February 28), to discuss the Bord na Mona (BNM) decision to cease its use of peat in power stations.

Kelly said that the purpose of the meeting is to tackle issues that will arise from the job losses that will result from the BNM decision, and the possible policy solutions that can be implemented to support the midlands.

Kelly argued that – while reducing carbon emissions was important – those efforts should be even-handed across the economy.

Efforts to reduce carbon emissions are essential and continued reductions will be required across all sectors in the coming years. However, we must ensure that this cross-sector transition to a low-carbon economy is inclusive and fair, and that nobody is left behind.

He added that steps would have to be taken at both a national and European level to address the social impacts from this type of climate mitigation.

“Actions must be taken at both EU and Government level as soon as possible. We in the European Parliament are proposing the establishment of a specific fund in the next EU budget of €4.8 billion, devoted to the ‘Just Energy Transition’,” he said.

He added that this fund would “address societal, socio-economic and environmental impacts on workers and communities, like in the midlands, that are hit by the move away from fossil fuels”.

It is imperative that EU Governments in the Council accept the European Parliament’s proposal and deliver these much needed funds to support the impacted regions.

Kelly said that meeting will be an opportunity to discuss how to proceed on these issues, and will feature expert speakers on this topic from the European Commission.

“Whatever the solution will be, it is important to learn from what has been done in other carbon-intensive regions around Europe, and how they have dealt with similar situations,” he concluded.

The meeting will begin at 6:30pm this evening, at the Bridge House Hotel in Tullamore.