Climate Action via Just Transitions Across the Island of Ireland: Labour, Land and the Low-Carbon Transition

Sinéad Mercier*, Patrick Bresnihan, Damian McIlroy, John Barry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Like climate action itself, it is fair to say the ‘just transition’ debate is in its infancy in Ireland within public and policy discourse around addressing climate breakdown, the ecological/biodiversity crisis and the transition to a low-carbon, green economy. This chapter critically analyses policy proposals that safe, secure and well-paid green jobs can only be maintained by strong unions and that bargaining power through unionisation is a vital component to achieving a just transition from ‘actually existing unsustainability’ and the creation of a climate-resilient economy and society. It explores examples of ‘unjust transition’ in the Republic and Northern Ireland and the importance in both jurisdictions of an explicit focus on a ‘just transition for agriculture’. While the idea of a just transition most often applies to workers in the energy sector, in Ireland, the greatest source of greenhouse gas emissions is the agricultural sector. The chapter also discusses the evolution of trades’ union engagement with both climate and energy decarbonisation and broader environmental politics across the island, noting that a ‘post-carbon’ just transition also raises challenges for unions embracing a ‘post-growth’ objective.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPalgrave Studies in Media and Environmental Communication
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sep 2020

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in Media and Environmental Communication
ISSN (Print)2634-6451
ISSN (Electronic)2634-646X

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Linguistics and Language


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