Ireland needs a total rework of its ideas about economic development if we are to achieve a ‘green new deal,’ according to Maynooth academic Dr Lorna Gold.
Speaking at a recent event hosted by the union-backed Nevin Economic Research Institute, she called for a “war on emissions,” expanded public transport, and major programmes to retrofit public housing and the homes of those on low incomes.
First proposed by US Democrats, and inspired by US President Roosevelt’s 1930’s depression-busting New Deal, the green new deal describes a package of social and economic measures that would simultaneously address climate change and economic inequality.
It complements the concept of a ‘just transition,’ which is championed by unions here and abroad. This would protect workers and communities currently dependent on environmentally-damaging jobs and industries as we move to a low-carbon world.
Giving NERI’s annual Dónal Nevin lecture in Dublin, Gold urged policymakers to focus on communities on the margins and to manage the migration to low-carbon by creating generous supports for those affected by the necessary economic and industrial shifts.
While there are no jobs on a dead planet, we must share the unavoidable cost to workers directly affected by green measures, particularly through the creation of meaningful employment replacement opportunities.
And she argued that we need to radically revise our social policy to develop a progressive welfare state, social insurance and quality social services: a “social floor to be strengthened and reformed to address the challenges of an equally unpredictable world.”
Gold said Ireland could be well placed to participate in a global response to the climate crisis. But she warned that changed mind-sets were needed.
The Climate Change Performance Index ranked Ireland the worst EU country on climate action as recently as 2017. A year later, two more studies had us just above Poland at second from the bottom.