Ireland needs a Green New Deal
Speaking at the Irish Congress of Trade Unions conference on Building a Just Transition, in Tullamore, Co Offaly, the leader of the Labour Party Brendan Howlin TD called for the Government to pursue a Green New Deal and establish the Just Transition Task Force recommended in the Oireachtas climate action report, with a remit to plan concrete actions to support workers and communities who will be most affected by the transition to a low carbon economy.
Brendan said: “Labour fought for the inclusion of a Just Transition Task Force in the recommendations of the Oireachtas cross-party climate action report. We want to see this Green New Deal delivered in 2019, with a remit to identify the areas of the economy most at risk from the shift away from fossil fuels.
“Bord na Móna is a cornerstone employer for many parts of the Midlands, and Labour’s vision is for the next chapter in Bord na Móna’s history. Labour sees a strong future for Bord na Móna, but not necessarily doing the same work. Bord na Móna should become the custodian of our peatlands. New jobs can be created in wind farms on peatlands; methane harvesting (also from municipal waste and dedicated food waste repositories); re-wetting and environmental conservation work; and nature tourism.
“Work in the Midlands can also be created by rolling out an ambitious programme of home insulation. The climate action report agrees to examine the possibility of home insulation of 75,000 homes a year. But the Climate Change Advisory Council advised 100,000 homes/year, and Labour fought for that in the committee. We want to go further than the report’s recommendations, and stick with the target of 100,000 homes per year.
“Ambition on home insulation will require new apprenticeships to build up the necessary workforce, but these are sustainability skills we need in the economy. A big part of meeting Ireland’s ambitious 2030 target will be to reduce our energy use. Insulating buildings – and indeed a whole new way of building homes – is central to reducing our carbon emissions. And home insulation reduces fuel poverty too. All local council houses should be insulated as a matter of urgency.
“Labour is committed to climate action that does not leave communities or workers behind. We can reduce energy poverty and increase prosperity in the Midlands by making the right investments. The first step is for the establishment of the Just Transition Task Force, as recommended by the all-party report, as a matter of urgency.”