May 31st, 2017
The Green Party has warned the government that the Midlands could become Ireland’s rust belt unless a comprehensive economic plan is put in place to deal with the decline in fossil fuel employment in the area.
The stark warning came as the Green Party launched their ‘Just Transition’ motion.
Just Transition aims to mitigate negative economic effects for former fossil-fuel workers after the closure of peat-fired power plants.
The plan proposes that funding currently used to sustain peat-fired power plants be diverted and spent on retooling existing plant infrastructure and retraining workers.
Funds should also support job transition, peatland restoration and social protection for those who may lose their jobs in fossil fuel related industries, the motion states.
Bord na Mona announced earlier this month that 70 staff are set to lose their jobs due to the closure of a briquette plant in Littleton, Co Tipperary.
Among the opportunities identified in the plan are training and grants in retrofitting homes which could create 5,000 jobs.
The fossil fuel industry across the globe is “living on borrowed time”, Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan TD said, increasingly dependent on government subsidies.”
However, he said that communities who rely on fossil fuel related employment must not be forgotten about as Ireland transitions to a low-carbon economy.
The plan also calls on Government to sit down with trade unions, businesses and communities and plan a long-term sustainable transition.
A report commissioned by IMPACT trade union was released yesterday calling on the Government to put policy in place to offset any potential negative impact on employment from decarbonisation.
The report also asked the Government to ensure a fair distribution of the benefits of low-carbon climate change policies to communities all across Ireland.
According to IMPACT Deputy General Secretary Kevin Callinan, such policy moves will help allay the fears of those working in fossil fuel industries, and communities with low-carbon and other green infrastructure in place.
“We need a greater focus on the social and jobs dimensions of low-carbon development to facilitate a just transition that recognises and addresses the genuine fears of workers dependent on high-carbon technologies,” Mr Callinan added.