‘Just Transition is required to deliver Climate Action – but it’s not happening under current government’ – Matt Carthy TD
The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Matt Carthy TD, has labelled the actions of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party in government as rendering the term ‘just transition’ as a meaningless. He accused government parties of advancing a ‘penalisation model’ by punishing ordinary workers, farmers and families rather than providing sustainable alternatives.
Speaking in the Dáil during statements on Just Transition last week, the Cavan Monaghan deputy said:
“It is clear that the phrase ‘just transition’ has virtually no meaning under this government.
“There is nothing ‘just’ about the course it is pursuing, nor is there much evidence that government policies are leading to a transition at the pace required.
“In agriculture, government policy has been exposed as a fallacy. While always quick and eager to impose penalties and additional charges on family farmers in rural communities, these are never matched with the provision of alternatives.
“In effect, the Government charges people for not using alternatives that are not actually available to them. We hear that the receipts from carbon taxes are ring-fenced for transition measures, but that is simply not true. It is claimed, for example, that farmers will receive €120 million annually from the carbon tax towards agri-environmental schemes, but that is disingenuous in the extreme.
“The funding does not even replace the monies for farmers the Government parties gave away in the EU budget negotiations. It is incorporated into the CAP budget, despite assurances that it would be additional.
“Basically, farmers will receive fewer supports while being asked to do more. Then we hear Fianna Fáil Deputies and other trying to sell that as a success.
“In the areas where the interests of farming and climate action collide, the Government fails at every single turn. Organic farming, for example, presents a unique opportunity to support family farm incomes through pursuing a premiumisation model in a way that completely aligns with our environmental ambition, but this Government has set an abysmal target of 7.5% organic conversion, as against an EU target of 25%, and under a Green Party Minister of State, we are nowhere near reaching even that meagre target.
“Likewise in forestry, a sector where we could be making a significant impact on carbon sequestration, we have an unmitigated disaster.
“Rather than the delivery of a forestry policy that supports the environment, local communities and the timber industry, this Government has overseen a scenario where all three have failed.
“It is the same story in areas where farmers can take a lead in renewable energy provision, such as in solar and anaerobic digestion. Blockages and barriers are the order of the day.
“Nowhere within the Government’s agriculture policy can we point to a provision that could in any way be described as pursuing a just transition.
“What is required to secure the future of our family farms is a fair CAP, fair prices and fair play.
“The delivery of these principles are also central to a just transition if that term is to have any basis in the language we use.
“Government parties continue to pursue the penalisation model, hiking charges on fuel and energy, but doing virtually nothing to allow those who bear the brunt to source alternatives.
“Through its retrofitting and electric vehicle grants policy the Government is essentially providing for a further transfer of wealth from those who are struggling the most to those who are financially better off.
“It is a twisted policy that bears no semblance to what a just transition should actually look like.
“Let us recall that the parties of Government have never achieved a single climate target that they have set.
“Rather than delivering on climate action, it further frustrates, angers and alienates those who could, should and want to play a positive role in protecting our environment, biodiversity and air and water quality.
“The Minister needs to change direction or he will again fail to deliver the change that is required.”