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Sustainability

Ireland has a lot of work to do to meet our 2030 targets. The Energy Charter Treaty (the Treaty) could hamper our progress even further. In 2018, Ireland was the first country in the world to divest from fossil fuels, however the Treaty will lock-in billions of euros worth of investments in oil, coal and gas. In Europe alone, the fossil infrastructure protected by the Treaty amounts to €344.6 billion – more than twice the EU annual budget. Social Justice Ireland, along with other international NGOs and civil society organisations has signed a statement asking the EU to pull out of the Treaty on environmental protection grounds.


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. 


At the European level, what the pandemic has cast doubt on is the very fundamentals of European integration. The main features of the European Union, what could be described as its “pillars”, are these: the single market and freedom of movement, the euro and the Stability and Growth Pact, and competition and state-aid law. We can already look ahead and see that the post-crisis EU could be standing on very different foundations if the questioning of the three basic pillars continues over time or, conversely, it could just as easily go back to its old ways.  What will the world environment in which this happens be, though? Here there are four possible scenarios emerging.


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.


There is an urgent need for ambitious, cohesive and transformative economic policies and for Europe’s need to face challenges collectively, and in solidarity. But Europe must do more. The upcoming challenges are daunting: not just the ecological and economic failure brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and the risk of a debt-deflationary downward economic spiral,  but also the economic divergences that have led to the rise of anti-Europe sentiment, nationalism and populism; and the grave, even terrifying ecological risks that transcend borders.  


Social fairness and solidarity are more important than ever in the European Union if it is to meet the challenges of demographic ageing, climate change and digitalisation and deal with the aftermath of Covid-19.  This is according to the latest 'Employment and Social Developments in Europe Report ‘Fairness and Solidarity in the European Social Market Economy’. 

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'.   


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.  

One of the objectives of Budget 2021 must be to support demand through Government capital expenditure.  In order to support investment and recovery, it is important that this capital spending is sustainable.  

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