News & Media

Just Transition should be central part of Climate Bill

17 June 2021

Statement by Duncan Smith TD
Party Whip and Spokesperson on Climate Action, Communications Networks and Transport.

Following the passage of the Climate Bill without any opposition amendments accepted, Labour climate spokesperson Duncan Smith said the Government must embed the principles of a Just Transition into all climate policy. Highlighting the example of Pat Barrett, who operated a family bike rental business in Lough Boora, Co. Offaly for the past 11 years, only to now be replaced by a big business from Dublin via a state agency, Deputy Smith said that workers need actions, not lipservice, to ensure a Just Transition.

Deputy Smith said:

“The legislation passed last night is landmark and a huge step forward for Ireland as we aim to reach the Paris Agreement targets. We have an ambitious climate change strategy with real actions based on science. Passing this Bill is just one stage, and the real work starts now.

“The Bill is the framework and it was an opportunity to include what we needed to in terms of the Just Transition so that the most vulnerable, those on the fringes, those experiencing poverty and those communities that are most at risk from the dramatic changes that we will have to make across all sectors of society are not left behind.

“Addressing climate change presents one of the greatest opportunities for our country to create well paid public jobs and has already inspired entrepreneurship in communities across the country. Workers and people must be at the heart of every climate decision we make. It cannot be dictated by the market.

“We recently saw a prime example of the opposite of Just Transition happening in Offaly where a family business operated by Pat Barrett was replaced by a large bike-hire company based in Dublin. This is not the Just Transition that Bord na Móna workers have been promised. There is something seriously wrong with the procurement process if it doesn’t take into account the impact on local jobs and local people in the area.

“Examples like this give me great cause for concern in the Government’s commitment to Just Transition and climate justice. Government must focus on supporting community projects, and above all, creating a fair and equal society as we take meaningful climate action.

“Almost every element of climate action falls under the umbrella of a Just Transition. An opportunity has been lost to take a global lead, with countries like Scotland and New Zealand, in how we define a Just Transition and climate justice, and how we make them central to our policy and decision-making. Unfortunately, this has not been done. There is one reference to a just transition and it is far too weak. That is where we are coming from and that is why there is a sour taste in many of our mouths for the final Stages of this Bill.

“Some of the debate on a climate action has pitted one sector or community against another, but our greenhouse gas emissions are spread across a number of sectors. It is not exactly an even spread, but it is even enough to show that we will all have to make significant changes.

“Transport is a significant polluter, causing almost one fifth of our carbon emissions. Ensuring decent and reliable public transport has to be at the heart of any serious attempt to reduce carbon emissions. I live in Dublin, one of the most congested cities in the world. Sometimes it is as high as third place on that list and has regularly been in the top 25 in recent years. I am ashamed of that. The congestion is not down to buses, but to cars. We need to make significant changes in Dublin, our major cities and our large towns to reduce emissions.

“The State must lead with ambition and vision for all in society.”