October 7, 2020
Failure to poverty proof Climate Action Bill a serious concern – Darren O’Rourke TD and Senator Lynn Boylan

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Climate Action, Communications Networks and Transport Darren O’Roruke TD and spokesperson on Climate Justice Senator Lynn Boylan have expressed concerns at the omission of any mention of Just Transition, workers’ rights or social justice in the amended Climate Action Bill.

They have also expressed reservations that watered-down language in parts of the bill will weaken public oversight and participation.

Teachta O’Rourke said: “It is deeply concerning that there is zero mention of a Just Transition, and that the Climate Advisory Council does not have a requirement for a member with expertise on workers’ rights or social justice, yet there are two references for expertise on economics and finance. 

“It is absolutely critical that the voices of workers and disadvantaged communities are represented at the table, so that the benefits and costs of climate action are distributed fairly, but also so that we can bring everyone along as we make the transition to a carbon neutral future.” 

Senator Boylan said: “I will work constructively with Minister Ryan to ensure this bill receives the scrutiny it deserves at committee. It is vital that we get the Climate Bill passed quickly, but it is even more important that we get it right and that it is poverty proofed.

“I welcome the fact that the Minister has tightened up the wording on carbon budgets, limiting the ability of the government to borrow from future carbon budgets. However, I have serious concerns regarding the weakness of some of the language in the bill. There are 10 references to ‘have regard to’ and over 40 references to the word ‘may’.

“We have just celebrated a landmark Supreme Court ruling with Climate Case Ireland where the court emphasised the need for public participation, transparency and the ability of citizens to hold the government to account on climate action.  

“I would worry that such watered-down language in the Climate Bill would weaken or even rule out the ability for such cases in the future.

“Tackling climate change must be a priority and a carbon neutral future should benefit citizens through job creation, warmer homes and a healthier environment.

“Therefore policy must be framed by climate justice and a just transition – or the direction of climate action will become the plaything of bankers and corporate investors. 

“Sinn Féin is committed to climate justice and a Just Transition for Ireland, north and south. This means a fairer and more democratic society, one which protects workers’ rights and empowers communities with more input and control over their future.”

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