Dublin’s poorest and most vulnerable communities cannot afford to give up fossil fuels, and risk being “left worse off” in the move to a “net zero” emissions society, a report from the capital’s energy agency has found.
The cost-of-living crisis, uncertainty in the rental market and a lack of information is preventing Dublin’s most disadvantaged communities from taking action on climate, according to the Codema report, and leaves them paying higher energy and transport costs.
The Government is committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. However, failing to consider how climate action policies will affect the poorest and most marginalised could leave these groups unable to afford the “transition to more sustainable practices”, putting this goal at risk, the report said.
A failure to put in place mitigation or “just transition” measures could also result in “climate action being viewed as a cause of the disadvantage which certain groups face”, the report said. This could result in “feelings of apathy, neglect and resentment” and leave them prey to climate-denial activists.
“The electoral success of political groups internationally that deny climate change or present climate action as a factor which adds further challenges to disadvantaged communities, illustrates the necessity of undertaking climate action in a just manner which leaves no group behind,” the report said.
“Given that fieldwork for this study was undertaken during a wave of anti-refugee protests in Dublin, the transition to a net zero society must be consistent with the idea of a just transition.”
Research carried out by the Think-tank for Action on Social Change (Tasc) for Codema identified the areas in Dublin most at risk of being left behind in the transition to net zero.
Sixty-five electoral divisions in Dublin — one in five of all divisions — were identified as “marginally below average”, “disadvantaged” or “very disadvantaged”. Of these 15 were identified as most likely to struggle to take action on climate change, due to issues such as finances, age of population, age of properties and access to sustainable transport. Nine were located in the Dublin City Council area, four were in the South Dublin County Council area, and two were in Fingal. None were in the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown area.
In-depth interviews were carried out with communities in Ballymun, Beaumont, Coolock and Darndale identified by the researchers as “particularly vulnerable” to being “left behind” if climate policies are applied unfairly.
“A lack of information and awareness were identified as barriers to taking action relating to climate change in Dublin,” the report, Understanding the Impact of a Transition to Net-Zero on Communities in Dublin, found
“A theme throughout the participants’ perspectives was the impact that contemporary challenges such as the cost-of-living crisis and housing crisis have on the ability of people to invest in sustainable practices, such as the retrofitting of homes, installation of solar panels and transitioning towards electric vehicles.”
Tenants also raised concerns about “green gentrification”. This happens when retrofitting results in higher rents, forcing the original tenant to be displaced.
The report recommends measures are put in place to make sustainable energy, transport and housing adaptations more affordable.