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'We won't need as many car mechanics': Calls for new commission to plan for industries impacted by green policies

The Green Party’s Just Transition bill will not be opposed by government.

Image: Shutterstock/Africa Studio

A JUST TRANSITION Commission should be set up to help industries across all sectors move from a fossil fuel economy to a climate-friendly one as fast as possible, according to Green Party leader Eamon Ryan.

The party’s Just Transition bill, which is not being opposed by government, aims to set up a commission which will bring together workers, communities, employers, and experts to help certain sectors impacted by a move away from fossil fuels. 

Ryan said it is important to get “ahead of the problems” stating that industries such as oil and gas, as well as the motor industry will face significant challenges as the government pushes forward with its green policies to reduce carbon emissions and get more electric cars on the roads.  

Speaking about the case of Bord na Mona, which has already experienced job losses, Ryan said an action plan to upskill workers should have been done years ago “when we knew this issue was coming”.

He said those that work in the motor industry will also face huge changes in the years to come as the government aims to get one million electric cars on Irish roads by 2030.

“Electric vehicles are only going to have a fraction of the maintenance. So for all those thousands of people working in the motor industry at the moment in the repairs industry and so on, we should be thinking ahead and saying, well that industry is going to change dramatically in this transition. How do we make sure that we’re training people in the right way so that they’re going into the right jobs, that those who are losing their jobs, because we don’t need as many car mechanics, are going to be able to find work in other parts of the industry,” he said.

He said that “ahead of the game thinking” is what the Just Transition bill does.

“It has a commission that really looks at that long term perspective, it sets up the the plans to prepare for that, in advance of them coming up, rather than reacting after the case, which is what’s happening at present,” he added. 

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Ryan criticised Climate Action Minister Richard Bruton for making comments that “when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine” fossil fuels remain the back-up, stating that Fine Gael are “reckless”. 

“I think they’re misleading the public. This idea that we will have security through fossil fuels is not true. We will have security by relying on our own renewable power resources,” he said, adding that we need to stop relying on Saudi Arabia and Russia.

A government spokesperson said the bill will not be opposed by government, stating that it appreciates the spirit of the proposed legislation. However, the government is understood to have a number of concerns about certain legal aspects contained in the bill. 

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