Posted by Claudia Tormey on November 14, 2019 at 09:47 AM
In the last six months we have stepped up our collaboration with the trade union movement on the issue of Just Transition.
Just Transition is is the principle that there needs to be plan to support the workers and communities affected by the transition away from very polluting industry.
The most high profile example in Ireland is the peat-fired power stations in the midlands. We have campaigned against the peat stations since they were opened in 2005. For years we did so without any reference to what the process should look like for the workers who would lose their jobs. That was a mistake on our part.
Over the last few years we have begun calling for the Government to set up a Just Transition Taskforce and sit down with the trade unions to negotiate an orderly exit from peat. We were joined in that call by the Fridays for Future school strike group in a joint letter to the Taoiseach this summer.
We then practiced what we preached, finally, and sat down with the trade unions and agreed a Just Transition Declaration between with ICTU, Fórsa, SIPTU and the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition we coordinate. And when we secured our first meeting with Leo Varadkar as Taoiseach, in September, SIPTU came with us and we pressed the case for a Just Transition Taskforce.
Of course we continued to oppose the absurd plan to continue burn peat for another decade by supporting it with subsidies for co-firing with wood. We brought together a range of organizations opposed to that into a loose network at the start of the year, and were a party to the planning objection that led An Bord Pleanala to torpedo the plan.
We welcomed the Government's appointment of a Just Transition Commissioner last week but there was no sense of triumph in the fact it came the same day ESB announced that their two peat stations will close at the end of next year when the current planning permission runs out.
It's 21 years since the Government was advised by consultants it hired itself, that the way to meet its 2010 emissions target was to stop burning peat and coal for electricity, and introduce a carbon tax.
The real test of how serious the Government is about Just Transition is for them to sit down now with the trade unions to negotiate an orderly exit from coal at Moneypoint before the planned date of 2025.
It is the single biggest thing the Government could do to bend the curve of Ireland's rising emissions, and it would make everything else we do, from installing heat-pumps in our homes to switching to electric cars even less polluting.