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Climate Change

The commitment to using wellbeing indicators alongside economic indicators in the Programme for Government is welcome.  Creating a sustainable Ireland requires the adoption of new indicators to measure progress. To reflect this, the wellbeing indicators that the new Government has committed to developing must include new indicators measuring both wellbeing and sustainability in society, to be used alongside measures of national income like GDP, GNP and GNI.

A vibrant economy is most important if Ireland is to produce a fairer future for all.  To secure such a future requires us to learn from our mistakes in the past.   Solid policies are required that secure the best future for all. 

As we look towards the future and rebuilding our society and our economy the new Government must consider how we can ensure that our recovery package and investment priorities post COVID-19 help us build a sustainable society and economy, and also move us towards a just transition and meeting our climate targets by 2030.

One of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant economic ‘deep freeze’ it has resulted in has been a large reduction in harmful emissions.  This reduction while welcome is only temporary.  The challenge is to ensure that investment in our recovery also supports progress to our climate commitments.

The World Health Organisation, UNICEF and the Lancet Commission have just published a landmark report on the need to place children at the centre of the Sustainable Development Goals.  The report finds that despite dramatic improvements in survival, nutrition, and education over recent decades, today’s children face an uncertain future. Climate change, ecological degradation, migrating populations, conflict, pervasive inequalities, and predatory commercial practices threaten the health and future of children in every country. 

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.

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