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New report shows Ireland’s climate policy is failing women and marginalised communities

Published: Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Feminist Communities for Climate Justice examined current climate policy and identified a number of critical gaps for women and marginalised people

The first report in Ireland to ever examine how current climate policy is impacting women and other marginalised groups says current climate plans don’t factor in existing inequalities experienced by people and in some instances, are worsening these inequalities.
The baseline research comes from Feminist Communities for Climate Justice, a joint project between the National Women’s Council of Ireland and Community Work Ireland. The report was prepared by Dr Fiona Dukelow, Dr Catherine Forde and Edith Busteed from of the Department of Applied Social Studies at University College Cork, and has identified several gaps in current climate policy, including:

  • Absence of women and marginalised communities in climate decision making space
  • Lack of gender-specific data about impacts of climate breakdown, resulting in a lack of gender-proof climate plans and policies 
  • Omission of care and care work, which is inherently green and low-carbon, from domestic climate policy 
  • Failure of current Just Transition plans to reduce inequalities for women and marginalised communities and enable them to participate in the Just Transition process

The report found that the current government response to climate action is worsening existing inequalities experienced by women, Travellers, disabled people, older people, and people seeking refuge and asylum, to name but a few. Current government policy puts the responsibility on individuals to take climate action, without addressing the structural barriers which prevent people from making climate-friendly choices. 

Collette McEntee, Project Co-Ordinator for Feminist Communities for Climate Justice said:

“This report clearly shows that the government has a blind spot when it comes to the overlap of the climate crisis and its impact on women, disabled people, Travellers, and many others. This has to change. If we are to meet our climate goals and make a Just Transition, it must be a fair, sustainable transition for everyone not just a select few. There is a clear need to better support communities who are impacted by climate action plans. This means including them as active participants in the development of climate policy and any plans for a Just Transition. It means investment in public services, such as accessible affordable public transport, childcare, green energy alternatives and retrofitting, and it means valuing and supporting work which is already climate-friendly and essential for our society, such as paid and unpaid care work.”

Dr Fiona Dukelow, co-author of the report, said: 

“The climate crisis does not impact everyone equally in Ireland.  One of the most striking e disparities is in greenhouse gas emissions by income.  The top 10% in Irish society have carbon footprints that are between 3.8 and 35.8 times the size of the carbon footprints of the entire bottom 50% of the Irish population.  This disparity carries through in how climate policies burden particular groups and how they intersect, including women, people living in poverty, Travellers and disabled people. Existing issues and inequalities including energy poverty, housing poverty, food poverty, mobility and spatial injustices experienced by these groups and communities risk being exacerbated by the climate crisis and prevailing policy responses.  Conversely, climate policies can also confer benefits which are not equally distributed.  There is a lack of attention paid to and a lack of data gathering on these climate justice issues. In meeting our stringent and very necessary climate targets with fairness and equality it is essential that climate justice moves from the margin to the centre of our climate action commitments.” 


Speakers at the event include: 

  • Princesita 'Queenie' O'Riordan, Founder of Sister Hub Cork
  • Orla Burke, Member of Independent Living Movement Ireland
  • Dr Fiona Dukelow, senior lecturer in social policy, research associate with the Institute of Social Science for the 21st Century (ISS21) and co-director of the Diploma in Environment, Climate and Sustainability at University College Cork (UCC). 
  • Dr Catherine Forde, senior lecturer in youth and community work, research associate of the Institute of Social Science for the 21st Century (ISS21) and programme director of the BSocSc (Youth and Community Work) at University College Cork
  • Edith Busteed, early career researcher currently undertaking a PhD at UCC on climate activism, looking at how gender informs involvement and approaches to climate activism
  • Ann Irwin, National Coordinator at Community Work Ireland
  • Orla O’Connor, Director of the National Women’s Council 
  • Collette McEntee, Coordinator of the Feminist Communities for Climate Justice Project 


The event takes place on Thursday 11th April at UCC Centre for Executive Education, No.1 Lapps Quay, Cork City Centre between 11am and 1pm

For comment: Dr Fiona Dukelow, report co-author; Orla Burke ILMI, launch event speaker (available for live radio or print only), Collette McEntee and Vanessa Conroy, Feminist Communities for Climate Justice, Ann Irwin, National Coordinator Community Work Ireland

You can read the full report and findings here. And you can find a shorter summary document here

For more information, please contact Catherine Hearn, Communications and Fundraising Officer, 087 196 5300 or catherineh@nwci.ie 

Notes to Editor:

About NWC 

The National Women’s Council is the leading national representative organisation for women and women’s groups in Ireland, founded in 1973. We have over 190 member groups and a large and growing community of individual supporters.

The ambition of the National Women’s Council is an Ireland where every woman enjoys true equality and no woman is left behind. This ambition shapes and informs our work, and, with our living values, how we work. 

We are a movement-building organisation rooted in our membership, working on the whole island of Ireland. We are also part of the international movement to protect and advance women’s and girls’ rights. Our purpose is to lead action for the achievement of women’s and girls’ equality through mobilising, influencing, and building solidarity. Find out more on www.nwci.ie


About CWI

Community Work Ireland (CWI) is the leading national organisation that promotes and supports community work and development as a means of addressing poverty, social exclusion and inequality and promoting human rights. CWI is a membership organisation of over 800 individuals and organisations who support community work and development and work in the most disadvantaged communities throughout Ireland. Since 2012, CWI has been working on climate justice with a series of publications and seminars on the topic and through their Climate Justice Working Group.