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Sustainability

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. 

A sustainable economy would involve transformative change and policies. The ‘circular economy’ theory is based on the understanding that it is the reuse of vast amounts of material reclaimed from end of life products, rather than the extraction of new resources, that is the foundation of economic growth.  In July 2019, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation launched its paper – Realising the opportunities for enterprise in the bioeconomy and circular economy in Ireland, which considers the impact of transitioning to more sustainable practices to provide solutions to ‘issues ranging from climate change, to pollution, to economic and regional development’.

Budget 2020 is an opportunity for government to implement a number of policies which would assist Ireland in meeting its environmental targets. Social Justice Ireland's budget submission contains a number of proposals that would help meet Ireland's targets while also incentivising better behaviour by our citizens and raising hundreds of millions of euros in revenue.

The Government has just launched a new initiative to track Ireland’s progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – the SDG Hub.  The SDG Hub is a Geosite – a website developed in collaboration with Ordinance Survey Ireland, the Central Statistics Office and Esri Ireland – and contains a lot of useful data and information on the SDGs and how Ireland is measuring them.  This work complements the Sustainable Progress Index produced each year by Social Justice Ireland, and the call for open source data to fill the gaps which remain in creating a full picture of the SDGs echoes our call to the Minister last year.

The contribution of airplane emissions to climate change is well documented. It's time the aviation industry made a contribution to society that more accurately reflects the harm it does while ultimately incentivising individuals to fly less. Click here to read how Government could raise €200m in 2020 while benefiting the environment.

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