President Michael D Higgins has described the decision of the United States to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change as "profoundly myopic and regressive".
Addressing the Centenary Conference of the International Labour Organisation in Dublin, he warned that the decision would effectively subject future generations to a "bleak and volatile planet".
He urged the ILO use its leverage to push for fair, ambitious and binding international agreements on greenhouse gas emission reduction targets to tackle climate change.
President Higgins also called on the ILO to develop a strategy for a "just transition" for workers and communities to ensure everyone was part of a sustainable low-carbon economy, where they could benefit from decent, green jobs.
In an Irish context, he said, this would mean that those impacted by the closure of unsustainable carbon-intensive electricity production must be offered re-skilling opportunities to enable them to find alternative suitable employment.
The President described the battle for decent work, fairness, security and sustainable advancement for all as a "defining battle for our times".
He said it was most regrettable that we now lived in a world that had in recent years moved sharply away from concepts of solidarity and empathy towards extreme individualism, divisiveness and hate-filled rancour, disturbingly reminiscent of that which laid the seeds for the rise of Fascism in the 1930s.
He said this context presented enormous challenges for those who believed in the transformative powers of collectivity, solidarity, equality, social justice and human decency.
President Higgins warned the ILO's sprit of idealism and vital moral purpose was being seriously undermined in the context of an ongoing assault on workers' rights following decades of the pursuit of a neoliberal agenda, and also by the rise of political extremism, particularly on the Right.
He strongly criticised the increase in precarious employment, contract working and casualisation, which he said was happening in many sectors including aviation.
He said such "innovations" were only innovations insofar as they maximised profits for employers and reduced employees' hard-won labour rights, describing this trend as part of an "inexorable race to the bottom".
He said workers were frequently expected to demonstrate flexibility, which meant an ability to readily respond to changing circumstances and expections, often without adequate information or recompense, but frequently not matched with any security of tenure or appropriate income.
He noted that online workers frequently are not covered by employment law or collective agreements, and seldom have access to social security or other employment rights because the platforms require them to register as self-employed.
He also cautioned that government investment in areas like education, health research and technology was a key component of economic growth and must not be cut in times of economic adversity.