Thursday, 29 April 2021
Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021: Second Stage (Resumed)
There can be no climate justice without social justice. We are not doing enough to ensure a just transition. Current Government policy punishes ordinary workers and their families and rewards big businesses and wind farm developers. This needs to change. I welcome the fact that we have a Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill but it needs to be stronger. It needs to be less aspirational and more legally binding. The climate crisis will not be solved by hopes and dreams. We need targeted action if we are to arrest the downward spiral. In years to come we will be speaking of the curlew and the corncrake as we now speak of the dodo if we do not act.
We cannot rely on crude measures like banning cars and culling herds and certainly not without proper planning and consideration for the consequences. Energy efficiency needs to be prioritised and our housing stock needs to be brought into the 21st century. I am assisting a lady who has been offered a grant for front windows and was told that perhaps she might apply for the back windows next year and a new door the year after that. This approach is wrong and it needs to stop. If we are not serious about sorting these things out properly, why bother at all? Is this what we are now reduced to?
Ireland is supposedly a very affluent country and ranks fourth in the IMF list of the ten richest countries in the world, as apparently measured per capita. Unfortunately, the contempt shown towards working class families for years has increased the unequal distribution of wealth, meaning that many are left behind when the tide rises.
We need to implement a rolling programme of upgrades for older housing stock. I am thinking of estates like St. Brigid's Square in Portarlington, St. Evin’s Park in Monasterevin, Dara Park in Newbridge and Maryville in Kildare town. Where is the just transition for the residents of these areas?
We need a comprehensive plan to ban the importation of fracked gas and, specifically, to ban liquefied natural gas terminals in Ireland. The Bill needs to be reviewed to ensure compliance with the Aarhus Convention. We need more engagement and consultation with the public. We say there must be nothing about us without us. Another way of looking at this is that those who are not at the table can find themselves on the menu. We must consider the views of our citizens. The Government cannot rely on carbon taxes alone to beat the working poor and their families into submission.