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Policy issues concerning Environment


The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill contains welcome commitments.  In order for it to be a success, significant investment and political will is required. Reducing emissions requires the implementation of policy decisions made in the interest of a sustainable future rather than short-term sectoral interests. This is where our Government and all members of the Oireachtas must show leadership and act in the national interest.  

According to a new report from the CSO, improvements are needed in Ireland’s waste water treatment to meet safety standards.


Ireland ranks 11th out of 15 comparable EU countries in this year’s Sustainable Progress Index, commissioned by Social Justice Ireland.  The index comprises three dimensions: economy, society and environment.  Ireland is ranked 10th out of the 15 countries on the economy.  On the social index, Ireland is in the middle of the ranking, in 6th place.  Ireland, however, scores last on the environment index which suggests we are facing significant challenges in meeting our environmental targets.   Delivering on the Programme for Government commitments on climate action becomes even more important as a result of these findings.

According to the latest data published by the CSO, €2.4 billion was not collected by the Exchequer due to direct subsidies and revenue foregone due to preferential tax treatment supported fossil fuel activities in Ireland in 2018. This represents an increase of 8 per cent on the previous year. 


A mature discussion needs to take place about the price of food and who pays for the additional production costs imposed by increased environmental and other conditions.This is an area where there is potential for collaboration between the environmental and agricultural lobby. Recent evidence of this can be found in the mutual opposition to the ratification of the Mercosur trade deal negotiated by the European Commission.


Public participation lies at the heart of the social contract, which has not always been a given in relation to environmental decision-making. Individuals and communities have come together to organise, mobilise and use legal mechanisms where necessary to protect their environment, working tirelessly to have their voices heard, whether they were formally invited to participate or not.

Social Justice Ireland was delighted to contribute to The Journal of Cross Border Studies in Ireland: Volune 15 2020 on the theme “Convergences and Divergences: Agriculture and the environment on the island of Ireland'.   

Yesterday (29th October 2020) the CSO published the latest report on The Census Population from an Environment Perspective 2011 and 2016. As the name might suggest, this Report delved into the Census data for 2011 and 2016, to analyse the trends around housing energy use. The results are interesting and highlight a willingness of households to move to more sustaiable home heating. For low income households however, they also underpin the need to have more focused action on retrofitting older homes and increasing energy efficiency.


Social Justice Ireland 
welcomes progress in Budget 2021on carbon tax, and the commitment to ringfence this revenue for sustainability measures.  However we are still a considerable distance from a Just Transtion and the compensation meausures in Budget 2021 are not as comprehensive as they could have been.  

Budget 2021 is an opportunity for this new Government to end to policies that subsidise and encourage the extraction and use of fossil fuels. Without such a move, Ireland cannot cease to be a climate action laggard.

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