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Climate Change

Ireland ranks 10th 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 11th out of the 15 countries on the economy dimension.  On the social index, Ireland is in the middle of the ranking, in 7th place.  Ireland, however, scores last on the environment index which suggests we are facing significant challenges in meeting our environmental targets.  

Ireland is one of the highest greenhouse gas emitters in the EU and we have the highest levels of emissions from agriculture.  We are failing in the necessary planning, services and infrastructure to ensure communities, towns and villages across all regions can adapt to changes that required to move to a more sustainable future.  Read Social Justice Ireland's Election Briefing on Sustainability for an outline of a number of key challenges facing Ireland and some policy proposals that should be in the next Programme for Government.

We have declared a climate emergency and we are a self-confessed laggard on climate change.  But despite all the talk, where is the action?  The 2019 Emissions Gap Report just published by the UN Environment Programme outlines just how serious the situation is.  But it also points to actions that can be implemented.  The time for talking about climate action is over, Government needs to start implementing policy to bring about real change. 

On Tuesday, 12th November 2019, President Michael D. Higgins hosted a seminar entitled "Rethinking Economics:  The Role of the State in Fostering a Sustaiable and Inclusive Economy".

In his opening remarks, he cautioned "the prevailing neoliberal model which features markets without regulation, distorted trade and unrestricted globalisation, the priority of the price mechanism and the practice of commodification, speculative investment, and which results in unbridled consumption, yawning inequality and destructive extraction of natural resources is unsustainable from economic, environmental and social standpoints."

Policy Coherence means making sure that the goals of one policy, or set of policies, does not conflict with another. Here are some areas where Ireland performs particularly badly in this regard.

The theme of the 2019 annual edition of Employment and Social Developments in Europe is sustainability.  The report explores how the EU can support the transition to a socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable economy that benefits the well-being of all and leaves nobody behind.

The UN Climate Action Summit 2019 begins in New York today.  The purpose of the summit is for countries who signed the Paris Agreement in 2015 to bring concrete, realistic and effective plans to meet 2020 targets and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent in the next ten years.  What plan does Ireland have to fully transform the economy in line with the sustainable development goals?

It's time for Governments to put an end to policies that subsidise and encourage the extraction and use of fossil fuels. Without such a move, Ireland will continue to be a laggard in terms of our climate action goals and obligations.

Ireland has signed up to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and is committed to legally binding climate commitments in 2020 and 2030.  We have a national commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050 yet we spend up to €4 billion every year on potentially environmentally damaging subsidies.

In the Sustainability edition of our National Social Monitor,  we assess whether current policy on sustainability encompasses the three pillars of environment, society and economy and make proposals on how to transition towards a sustainable future. 

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