Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Questions (45)

Seán Sherlock


45. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when he plans to carry out early assessments of the social and employment impacts of climate policies and identify the social protection needs in the changing industries in addition to the active labour market policies as recommended in the recent cross-party report of the Joint Committee on Climate Action; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38878/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Climate Action Plan outlines many key features of our transition to a low carbon economy. For example it outlines that by 2030:

- Renewable Energy will be 5 times its existing capacity.

- Retrofitting of homes will be 10 times its present level

- Non-recyclable plastics will have been eliminated.

On the other hand it also highlights:

- the ending of the use of peat and coal in electricity generation

- the end of new sales of combustion engine cars

- the need to retrofit 500,000 homes to B2 standard.

All of these represent economic and social challenges to adapt, to change habits, to mobilise capital and to build new infrastructures. These challenges are reflected in both the recent budget and the National Development Plan.

The Climate Action Plan clearly recognises that reducing our greenhouse gas emissions has the potential to have a disproportionate impact on different groups in society. It is essential that the burdens borne across groups are seen to be equitable, and that everyone is making an appropriate and fair level of effort. Enabling a just transition to a climate resilient and low carbon society, while protecting the most vulnerable in this process, is at the heart of the Climate Action Plan.

In the recent budget a decision was made to gradually raise carbon price to €80 per tonne by 2030 and to ensure that all of that money be used to support those least equipped to make the transition, to provide a just transition for those most exposed and to empower communities to make important changes. These include:

- An increase in fuel allowance

- doubling investment in retrofitting for low income families

- a package of just transition focused immediately on the midlands

- new support to accelerate the uptake of retrofitting, switch to electric and alternative transport modes.

The Plan sets out an ongoing programme of work to assess the economic and employment implications of the transition to a low-carbon economy and tasks the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) with establishing a Just Transition Review Group to identify specific transition needs among cohorts of workers, communities and specific groups of people. NESC will also prepare periodic strategic advice to Government on the Just Transition. The first such report is to be prepared by the end of 2020.

Question No. 46 answered orally.