9 July 2021
An update on the implementation of the Just Transition programme for the Midlands was published yesterday from the Just Transition Commissioner Kieran Mulveny.
Three transition progress reports have already been published, the most recent one being issued in December 2020.
The region has received ‘significant State funding’ for carbon tax receipts and to support communities affected by the closures of peat-fired power stations, according to the document.
To support this transition, over €244 million has been allocated for projects in the area.
Among the projects include a €108 million Bord na Móna peatlands restoration project, €77 million from the EU Just Transition Fund and €20 million to the Midlands Retrofitting programme.
A further 35 projects in the region have entered into contract under The National Just Transition Fund.
A case study “in how not to handle a transition”
However, “very little money has actually got through being delivered on,” according to Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) Campaigns Officer Macdara Doyle.
Mr. Doyle is critical of the proposed Just Transition in the Midlands and calls it “a case study in how not to handle a transition.”
He also told The Green News that many of the projects listed in the update have been previously announced.
The update doesn’t make clear what the quality is of 350 jobs mentioned in the update or if workers in the region would be “asked to make a sacrifice in order to contribute to climate targets”, he added.
Executive Manager of the TASC Climate Justice Centre Sean McCabe echoed Mr. Doyle’s criticism of the update, stressing that “The high level figures are significant but we are still missing the substance.”
The critical consideration for McCabe is for the community to be placed “front and centre”.
“Macro level numbers are one thing, but the quality of life, the standard of living that allows people to enjoy on the other side of the transition is critical,” he told The Green News.
The transition in the region is significant. Due to the shifting work in the region from peat to renewable energy, the Wider Midlands is the first region in Ireland to experience a concentrated shift away from carbon activities.
In ending the production of peat, there are multiple climate benefits, according to TASC, including reduced emissions, carbon-storing peat bogs, bettter water quality and reduced risk of floods.
These notable environmental improvements must be coupled with a Just Transition, campaigners continue to stress.
According to Mr. Doyle, it’s important that transition efforts aren’t simply a case of bulldozing these industries and the loss of institutional knowledge.
Rather it has to be that “you’re developing something new there in place of it,” he added.
By Sam Starkey