Statements on Just Transition

Statements on Just Transition

Full Transcript: I am glad to have the opportunity to contribute to this debate. It is a conversation we will need to rehearse over and again in the coming years and decades. A just transition has at its core the principle of solidarity so that, as we make changes to our economy and society in response to the existential implications of climate change and biodiversity breakdown, we protect our most vulnerable. That must be in terms of both climate mitigation and climate adaptation to include those impacted by the structural changes we must undertake in our economies, but also those directly and adversely impacted by changes in our planet’s climate.

We must also be clear that a just transition is a framework to enable us as a society to make difficult decisions in the fairest possible way. It is not, and I have heard it deployed in this way, a reason or an excuse to defer, delay or deny difficult decisions. A failure to act and a business-as-usual model will be catastrophic for our entire biosphere but those impacts will be felt earliest and most keenly by those who have contributed least to the problem. They are feeling it already. From east Africa to India, the impacts of a changing climate are already playing out before our eyes.

It is this international dimension I will concentrate on. Other Deputies will concentrate on the Irish context and that is a critical discussion to have. There are important and difficult conversations to be had about how we protect people in energy poverty, and how we reform our food systems, our transport systems and our energy systems. A just transition has to be the underpinning framework for those conversations. Our commitments under the Paris Agreement, however, are global in nature. As was restated in the Silesia declaration on solidarity and just transition in 2018:

..natural disasters and other exogenous shocks, exacerbated by climate change, bring devastating effects to vulnerable workers and people living in poverty with limited savings and no social safety net, increasing the challenges … and the obstacles to just transition, especially for countries characterized by fragile environmental conditions and least developed countries

In preparing for today’s debate, I read the European Community Humanitarian Office crisis report to the European Commission on drought in the Horn of Africa, where climate is changing and rains are failing. In Kenya, more than 1 million livestock have perished. In Ethiopia, women and girls walk for most of the day and part of the night for a jerrycan of water. In Somalia, 1.4 million children under the age of five will face acute malnutrition through the end of the year. Do these Somali children feel hunger any less keenly than my five-year-old at home? Do Somali fathers love their children any less than I love mine? I very much doubt that is the case.

The people of east Africa need rain and grain, not beef, butter and powdered milk. People across the developing world need a voice in any conversation on a just transition. They need Ireland, as a developed country, to live up to our climate commitments, and also to advocate for things such as a meaningful loss and damage facility. If we are genuine in our commitment to a just transition, it must not just be for communities in Ireland. That commitment must extend in solidarity to people beyond our shores to encompass the entire global community.