Just Transition - some policy options for Ireland

Posted on Monday, 27 November 2023
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How we adapt and mitigate to climate change now will in large part determine the type of world in which future generations will live. When adapting to meet this challenge, we must also grasp the opportunity to address social and economic challenges that already exist, making sure that the actions that we take begin to address these problems rather than exacerbate them.  This requires a Just Transition approach, both to meeting climate goals, and addressing the multifaceted social and economic challenges that we have failed to address for many years.  Transition is not just about reducing emissions. It is also about transforming our society and our economy and aligning our economic policies to support our social and environmental goals.


For any ‘just transition’ to be successful, Government must address current social and economic inequalities and infrastructure deficits by investing in effective and integrated social protection systems and delivering quality services as well as progressing actions to implement carbon budgets and the Climate Action Plan, which are vitally important.

Transforming national policy also means ensuring that a just transition effects change at all levels. This must include social protection systems being updated to uphold an operational and fair Social Contract, planning for an ageing population through implementation of updated care policies and the recognition of unpaid labour in our economy and society. If Government is to deliver our 2030 targets, strong policy coherence; the mainstreaming of climate adaptation into fiscal policy; and governance focused on addressing inequalities is required.

Below are some policy options to deliver a Just Transition for Ireland.  These include:


  • Apply the principle of the ‘common good’ to public investment into climate research and development.
  • Investment rather than tax subsidies should be the preferred policy tool to support and develop climate infrastructure.
  • Invest 0.01 per cent of GDP in climate research and development annually to 2030.

Energy Transformation

  • Develop a national retrofitting strategy of sufficient scale with a target to deep retrofit the entire existing housing stock in a 20 year timeframe and concurrent plans to increase capacity within the construction sector. 
  • Upgrade of the national grid must be a key element of infrastructure investment.
  • Integrate a Building Renovation Passport Scheme into the National Retrofit Plan.


  • Review all fossil fuel subsidies and environmentally harmful tax expenditures in 2024 against alignment with our national climate goals.
  • Set out a roadmap to remove all fossil fuel subsidies by 2030.


  • Implement a polluter pays principle across industry and other transformative policies to convert industry to a sustainable sector within the Just Transition.
  • Pilot international examples of best practice to mainstream the sharing economy and sustainable use of natural resources.
  • Invest in the development and expansion of Living Labs in each region focusing on areas such as plastics, renewables, zero carbon buildings. 

Agriculture and Land Management

  • Government should publish Land Management and Farm to Fork strategies for 2024 in order to progress towards sustainable agricultural practices.
  • Pilot Farm Sustainability Passport scheme to support farmers to move to environmentally friendly and sustainable agricultural methods. 


  • Proactively pursue the removal of the exemption of Jet Kerosene from excise and carbon taxes at EU level.
  • In the interim, Government should introduce a commercial air transport tax, with revenue accrued invested in improving public transport to reduce urban congestion, improving regional and rural public transport connectivity and expanding active transport options beyond urban centres.

Policy Coherence

  • Integrate climate adaptation into the annual budgetary process.
  • Publish a green budget within the annual national budget.
  • Create targets and a reporting system for each SDG to ensure accountability on targets at a national level.

Social protection

  • Ensure social protection systems adequately provide a safety net and minimum social floor.
  • Benchmark core social welfare rates to 27.5 per cent of average weekly earnings.
  • Generate an audit of services and infrastructure on a place-based approach.


  • Pilot a Universal Basic Services and a Universal Basic Income Scheme for Carers in line with the Programme for Government Commitment to a Carers Guarantee. 
  • Create a statutory entitlement to Home Care Services which has the required resourcing to support people to live and age well in their own homes and can keep pace with increased demand.

Work, education and training

  • Resource the development of place-based strategies which are key to supporting communities during the transition, as risks and impact will vary across different regions and sectors.
  • Develop new apprenticeship and traineeships to support climate mitigation measures with a focus on place based, on the job training, targeting those in the labour market in positions that have been identified as at risk.
  • Ensure those in employment have access to quality employment, where possible having the option to work remotely.