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A farmer centred approach to understanding Ireland's bioeconomy in the context of just transition.

Kieran Harrahill, senior researcher at TASC and PhD candidate, will give an give a background to Just Transition with relevance to the agricultural sector in Ireland, introduce bioeconomy production processes that reduce society’s reliance on fossil fuels, and give an overview of The People’s Transition initiative, led by TASC.




Just Transition has become a prevalent feature within national and international policy documents focusing on the need to address the social, environmental and economic consequences of climate change. While extractive fossil fuel industries, such as coal mining, have been at the forefront of the application of a Just Transition, one sector that has seen limited focus is agriculture. Agriculture holds an integral position within the socio-economic well-being of many rural regions. In the Republic of Ireland, agriculture has a disproportionately high influence on the creation of greenhouse gas emissions. While changes are needed to agricultural practices to reduce emission creation, applying such measures in a top-down, unjust fashion may result in a backlash against climate policy and increased support for political groups who deny the need for climate action.

This presentation will focus on three areas. It will begin by providing background to Just Transition before discussing its prominence within agriculture internationally and its relevance to the beef sector in the Republic of Ireland. Secondly, it will introduce the idea of the bioeconomy whereby agricultural waste and crops are converted into new products that can reduce society’s dependence on fossil fuels. While this concept could support a Just Transition for farmers by creating new income streams in a sustainable fashion, critics of the bioeconomy have argued that it could replicate the power imbalances present in the fossil-based economy. Finally, an overview of The People’s Transition initiative, led by TASC, the think-tank for action on social change, will be provided. The People’s Transition aims to design climate solutions that give local people and communities ownership of the transition to a greener economy and enhance public support for climate action by tackling inequality and raising living standards. This three-year action research project will engage with communities across the island of Ireland.

Kieran Harrahill

Kieran Harrahill is a senior researcher in climate justice with TASC, the think-tank for action on social change. Kieran is leading the People’s Transition initiative. This participatory decision-making model seeks to support community-led local development for climate justice.

TASC, with the backing of AIB, are applying the People’s Transition model in 30 communities across the island of Ireland over the next three years. The People’s Transition seeks to build support for climate action and empower communities to take ownership over the transition to a more sustainable society.

Kieran is also completing a PhD with UCD, Teagasc and BiOrbic, the national bioeconomy research centre. The title of Kieran’s thesis is ‘A farmer-centred approach to understanding the Irish bioeconomy in the context of just transition’. This study will identify measures to facilitate the involvement of economically vulnerable agricultural sectors in the bioeconomy.

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