Green Party call for new ‘Just Transition’ commission to protect Bord na Móna workers

16th May 2017

Greens to advance legislation promoting a new form of social partnership to promote a just and fair transition to a green economy.

Speaking following Leaders’ Questions on job losses in Bord na Móna in the Dáil today, leader of the Green Party, Eamon Ryan TD has called for a new ‘Just Transition’ Commission to be set up to ensure a far transition to a low-carbon economy.

Speaking today, he said: “As Ireland’s economy  inevitably changes, as we move away from a fossil fuel based energy system, and work towards a low-carbon economy, the Government must do more to protect those vulnerable to job losses.

“In the coming weeks the Green Party will be bringing legislation before the Dáil, similar to Bernie Sanders’ Clean Energy Worker Just Transition Act, to protect Ireland’s environment and at the same time to make sure that workers, like those in Bord Na Mona, are not left behind. Some of the Bord na Mona workers whose jobs are under threat are the third and fourth generations of their families working on bogs since the 1940s.

"We want to see a 'Just Transition' commission established which will work within a new form of social partnership. We need to bring the affected communities, trade unions, businesses, climate transition experts and Government together to see how we can overcome obstacles to a fair and just transition to the low carbon economy.

“The Irish midlands must not be allowed to become like the US and UK ‘rust-belts’. The workers in Bord na Mona have a very proud tradition but are now facing into a different future  - they must be put at ease that their  voices will be listened to, and livelihoods protected. Not only is demand for peat briquettes down but the industry also faces an end to the Public Service Obligation levy for the burning of peat in power generation by 2019.”

“We are calling for the remains of this PSO levy for peat – €120m a year - to be re-directed into a fund that will pay for the re-training and redeployment of workers over the next few years.  Using that subsidy to promote the retrofitting of buildings, we can create three or four times the number of sustainable jobs and help the public cut their energy bills at the same time.

“The sudden Bord na Mona announcement of job closures in Littleton is a prime example of how not to manage this process and is evidence of why we need Government to provide well-ordered, long-term plans through a dedicated body.  This is just the sort of initiative that we envisage the new 'Just Transition' Commission promoting and delivering for both the workers and the whole midlands economy. The end is coming for fossil fuel employment, and we cannot risk creating an economy where people are left behind. Communities cannot be abandoned in the move to a low carbon economy - the transition must be just as fair as it is fast. Our legislation will seek to address this issue.”