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Sustainability

Social justice matters. That is why Social Justice Ireland publishes our annual socio-economic review. This book is about charting a course to a fairer Ireland. Social Justice Matters 2020 provides an analysis of the present situation on a wide range of issues and identifies a programme of initiatives and policies that can address our challenges in an integrated and sustainable manner.

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.  

Whatever combination of parties sits down to negotiate the next Programme for Government, sustainability must be a key focus. This requires a focus on more than just environmental sustainability, but also financial and regional sustainability.

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.

The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport has launched a public consultation to review Ireland’s sustainable mobility (active travel and public transport) policy “to ensure services are sustainable into the future and are meeting the needs of a modern economy”. The public consultation, which closes on the 24th January 2020, is open to all stakeholders including the public.  

Budget 2020 does not contain the ‘bold and new decisions’ required to meet the ‘defining challenge’ of climate change, and there was no progress on examining subsidies that the CSO has highlighted as potentially environmentally damaging.

Social Justice Ireland welcomes the Budget 2020 decision to increase the carbon tax from €20 per tonne to €26 per tonne. This is the first significant increase in the tax since it was introduced almost one decade ago, and we also welcome the commitment to ringfence the revenue to deal with the transition to a more carbon neutral economy.

What role can Local Authorities play in Ireland's progress towards the SDGs?  Can small changes really make a big difference?  We believe that they can.  In this SDG Policy Briefing developed as part of the DEAR project, we set out some of the changes that Local Authorities could implement to create a more sustainable Ireland.

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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