New climate action policy that is currently being discussed by Government will not only provide for a reduction in the country’s carbon emissions but place ‘Just Transition’ at the very heart of communities here.

Details of the latest plan of action on climate change emerged during the ‘Building A Just Transition: The Case for Bord na Móna’ conference on Tuesday, April 30. The Just Transition initiative – which has been mooted in an effort to identify key measures and supports for Bord na Móna employees and the communities in which the company is based as it moves towards decarbonisation – was discussed in detail.

Fine Gael TD for Offaly-north Tipperary Marcella Corcoran Kennedy brought the new plan to the fore during her address to the conference.

In this Bord na Móna restructuring Co. Offaly is going to lose the most jobs of any other county in the midlands.

She also pointed out that while transition was going to be “enormously challenging” for the people of Offaly and the wider midlands region, the Government is currently working on a plan “to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change”.

‘Transitioning to the future’

The midlands TD then went on to commend Offaly County Council for its establishment of a Just Transition Committee comprising numerous agencies that will assist Bord na Móna workers with additional supports including education and alternative employment opportunities.

“Those stakeholders will work together to see how workers in Bord na Móna will get fair chances and opportunities if they decide to take the redundancy package that is on offer,” Corcoran Kennedy continued, before pointing out that as a west Offaly native she was brought up “surrounded by bog”.

All the workers around me either worked in ESB, Bord na Móna or in agriculture.

She continued: “Bord na Móna was a tremendous source of employment; a tremendous source of security for the people of Offaly.

“We didn’t have the type of migration out of the county that other counties had back in the 1950s and 1960s because of Bord na Móna and the ESB.”

The psychology of climate change

Corcoran Kennedy went on to say that, now though, the entire region was facing “a massive, almost psychological shift” in recognising that climate change is happening.

“As a country we have international obligations that we have to stand up to and this is going to effect every single one of us,” she added.

Meanwhile, as a key member of the Government’s Climate Action Committee that produced the recent report, Corcoran Kennedy is adamant that while it will focus on reducing Ireland’s carbon emissions in the years ahead, it will most definitely address the need to provide for a Just Transition as the country moves to decarbonise its economy.

This means that nobody will get left behind during the transition and that all our citizens will have decent work and quality jobs.

She added: “All of our citizens and the communities will be placed at the center of Just Transition and we must all collaborate in a transparent way with every generation.

“Ireland must provide €175 million in total in global climate finance by 2020 and our new policy will be committed to scaling up on climate action.”