Monday, 29 March 2021
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I thank all of the Senators who have raised the issue of the rural resettlement programme and the plan for the future of rural areas, which is all very important. Many of us represent rural communities and many Senators live in rural communities, which is even more important. It is also important that it is sustainable for people to live in rural communities.
Last week was a funny week in politics. It was a bit of a comedy show for a number of reasons which I do not intend going into here. Last week, An Taoiseach spoke at the launch of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021. He said that the Bill "will create tens of thousands of new green jobs" and increase employment in agriculture. As a member of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture and the Marine I welcome that initiative. It is positive and really good news, and it is a good focus and start to the Bill.
The Government must understand and not underestimate the scale of the challenges faced by farmers. Farmers know agriculture and climate change are inextricably linked. They know best about sustainable agricultural practices. Farmers also know climate change is important to their sector's sustainable development and profits. Farmers are ambitious too, not just for food production but also in wishing to have sustainability and production as key elements of their farm practices. The kernel of it is that the Government will need to provide substantial financial supports to farmers to assist them in the transition to new sustainable practices under a new just transition package. Just transition is not an optional policy extra for the Government but a legally binding obligation resulting from Ireland's adoption of the Paris Agreement. Under any just transition mechanism, economic costs have to be taken into consideration. Like everyone in this House, I want a fair deal for farmers and I look forward to a very realistic and pragmatic debate on this important legislation.
The Bill and climate justice are owned by us all. It is not a political gift for anyone and is not going to be hijacked by any political movement. We all live in this climate and we all must prioritise climate justice, which is the key message that I wanted to deliver.