Tuesday 22 October 2019

President calls on the US to rejoin Paris accord

‘Regressive decision’: Donald Trump was criticised for pulling the US out of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. PHOTO: AP
‘Regressive decision’: Donald Trump was criticised for pulling the US out of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. PHOTO: AP

Anne-Marie Walsh

President Michael D Higgins has called on Donald Trump's government to reconsider a "profoundly myopic and regressive decision" to exit a global climate change pact.

He urged a labour organisation to ask the US to review its decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in a speech yesterday.

Mr Higgins was speaking ahead of international protests in support of action on climate change that are due to take place in more than 60 Irish towns and cities on Friday.

In a speech to mark the centenary of the International Labour Organisation in Dublin Castle yesterday, he said the US decision may take effect from December next year.

It will effectively subject future generations to a bleak and volatile planet, he added.

"The International Labour Organisation should also consider playing its part - potentially one that could carry some weight - in urging the USA to reconsider the profoundly myopic and regressive decision to exit the Paris Agreement on Climate Change," said Mr Higgins.

He said the climate crisis was the most pressing issue facing us all, and insisted the planet was in peril.

Mr Higgins said this was due to the "insatiable, unrestricted consumption of the Earth's finite natural resources" since man had begun to have an impact on the Earth's geology and ecosystems.

He urged the labour organisation to push for binding agreements on reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

It could also provide a lead role in developing a strategy for a 'just transition' from "unsustainable carbon-intensive electricity production" for workers by offering them re-skilling opportunities, he said.

Meanwhile, the President called for new enforcement measures to prevent workers from being exploited by a "race to the bottom" due to new forms of working.

He said the vista of zero-hours contracts was now an appalling reality for many.

"Many workers are expected to demonstrate what is often referred to as 'flexibility', by which is meant a willingness and ability to readily respond to changing circumstances and expectations, often without adequate information or recompense," he said.

"Such flexibility is frequently not matched with any security of tenure or appropriate income by employers."

He said we were sadly witnessing increases in precarious employment across the EU and within the university sector, including contract working.

Mr Higgins said these new ways of working were only innovations insofar as they maximised profits for employers and reduced employees' hard-won labour rights.

He said research by Dr Pádraig Carmody of Trinity College on competing taxi companies, including Uber, in South Africa showed ride-sharing resulted in the rise of the "precariat worker".

Workers get a cab, take responsibility for everything and wait to be called, and their bodies and cars used at will, he said.

Mr Higgins also said online workers registered as self-employed were often not covered by employment law, so seldom had access to social security, paid leave or paid training.

"These recent developments in the world of work are nothing less than a recrudescence of some of the worst practices of the 19th century," he said.

Irish Independent

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