Not ‘enough specific action’ in climate plan – Mary Robinson

Former president says protection for workers ‘critical’ while people reskill for new roles

Former president Mary Robinson has said she doesn’t think there is “enough specific action” within the Government’s Climate Action Plan.   File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times.

Former president Mary Robinson has said she doesn’t think there is “enough specific action” within the Government’s Climate Action Plan. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times.

 

Former president Mary Robinson has said she doesn’t think there is “enough specific action” within the Government’s Climate Action Plan.

Mrs Robinson said it is important the plan is implemented fairly and with “just transition for workers in any sector that will have to change”.

The Government launched the Climate Action Plan last month, which contains 183 actions that they say will help Ireland meet 2030 EU climate emission targets.

“I don’t think there’s enough specific action but at least it’s good that there is a plan and I think now it’s up to people keep the pressure on.

“I’m trying to encourage a sort of global movement that brings together all of those who are most affected and I’m very glad to say that women leaders are really stepping up to the plate now on climate change,” she told reporters at the Irish Congress of Trade Unions’ biennial conference in Dublin on Wednesday.

Mrs Robinson told the conference climate action on an “unprecedented scale” is required.

Social protection

“Due to the pace and magnitude of the transition, it will pose risks to human rights and sustainable development if not carefully managed,” she said.

Mrs Robinson said social protection will be “critical” to protect people who lose jobs while they reskill and find new jobs. She said workers will need support to reskill and access training and if they are close to retirement age, early access to their pension.

“There is a role for government to provide a social protection system but also for companies to ensure that contributions and taxes are paid in full so that workers can claim health benefits, social welfare, pensions etc,” she said.

“Investment will also be needed in education and training so that the oil and gas worker of today, for example, can retain and upskill as a solar engineer, an IT specialist, or whatever they want to reinvent themselves as. Change is as you know inevitable and planning for it is key.”

‘Global movement’

Mrs Robinson also said only a “global movement” can mobilise the transformation needed to prevent “an irreversible climate crisis”.

“The countries and governments of the world still have a lot of work to do to ensure that global warming does not exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels,” she added.

“The bedrock for proper development has been laid through the Paris Agreement, the Sustainable Development Goals and Human Rights and General Assembly Resolutions for climate action inspired by our common humanity and the need for solidarity between people and between generations.”

Mrs Robinson also commended the work of Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg.