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Policy issues concerning Environment

Ireland has been through many “boom-Bust” economic cycles.  Each “bust” has led to assurances that lessons have been learned and that changes will be made to ensure that the next recovery will be sustainable.  Election 2016 occurs at the cusp of such discussions and offers us an opportunity to vote for policies which can indeed break the “boom-bust” cycle and deliver a more stable future.   Real sustainability will require a long term vision and a capacity to develop and implement policies which will have their impact in 10 or even 20 years’ time.

We are focussing far too much on the performance of the economy and not nearly enough on issues such as aging, social housing and sustainability, that have major implications for the wellbeing of individuals and society as a whole according to the National Social Monitor 2015 published by Social Justice Ireland.  It goes on to argue that a balance is required between the various aspects of life if the wellbeing of this and future generations is to be secured.

Social Justice Ireland strongly endorses the key messages on climate change contained in the new encyclical from Pope Francis.  In this 184-page document entitled ‘On Care for Our Common Home’ Francis urgently calls on the entire world's population to act, lest we leave to coming generations a planet of "debris, desolation and filth."

Sustainability is about ensuring that all development is socially, economically and environmentally sustainable. Sustainability forms a core pillar of Social Justice Ireland’s Policy Framework for a Just Ireland. A full analysis of the challenges in promoting sustainability and our policy proposals are contained in our Socio-Economic Review 2015 ‘Towards a Just Society’.  The chapter is available below.

Even if global greenhouse gas emissions are cut to the level required to keep global temperature rise below 2°C this century, the cost of adapting to climate change in developing countries is likely to reach two to three times the previous estimates of $70 billion-$100 billion per year by 2050, according to a new United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report.

Professor Seán Ó Rian presented a paper at Social Justice Ireland's 2013 Social Policy Conference entitled 'Economic Foundations of Social Progress - Ireland through a Nordic Lens'.  The paper examines social protection, employment, finance and institutional transformation from an Irish and a European perspective.

The paper is available here.

The presentation and Q & A session are available to view below.

Nearly 2 billion people still lack access to safe drinking water. Despite the fact that the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on water was reached in 2010 the scale of the challenge the world faces on this issue is staggering. 

Ireland is at significant risk of not meeting its EU 2020 targets.

Figures released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicate that while Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions will comply with its Kyoto Protocol obligations (2008 – 2012), Ireland is at significant risk of not meeting its EU 2020 targets even under the best-case scenario.

The Government’s Renewable Energy Strategy document does not contain any measureable outputs, policy goals or short, medium or long-term implementation plans in order to reach the stated targets. 

This is the third in a series of reports on the UN Climate Change conference curreently taking place in Durban prepared by Sean McDonagh SSC. Social Justice Ireland is very grateful to Sean for providing these updates. The previous two may be accessed at the end of this report.

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