The all-of-Government plan announced by Minister Richard Bruton will make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change head on, North Cork Fine Gael Councillor John Paul O’Shea has said.
Cllr. O’Shea said: “Fine Gael is driving unprecedented cross-party collaboration on climate action and the Government is now stepping up the response. The publication of the all of Government climate plan is a landmark moment in the fight against climate breakdown.
“This plan will give Irish people a cleaner, safer and more sustainable future and will benefit generations of people in County Cork. Ultimately this is about securing a better, healthier, more resilient future for the whole country.
“The plan sets out the actions we need to take in every Government Department and every sector. It identifies how Ireland will achieve its 2030 targets for carbon emissions, and puts us on a trajectory to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
“It will mean changing the way we heat our homes, the way we travel and the way we power our country. Currently only 30% of our electricity comes from renewable sources but this plan will see us move to 70% renewable electricity by 2030.
“For example, we are establishing a new microgeneration scheme, allowing homeowners to generate their own electricity and sell what they don’t use back to the national grid.
“We will also deliver a new retrofit plan to retrofit 500,000 homes. This will see large groups of houses being retrofitted by the same contractor to reduce costs, smart finance, and easy pay back methods. We will also install 400,000 heat pumps in homes and businesses to replace the existing carbon-intensive heating systems.
“The plan will also see us bring 950,000 electric vehicles onto our roads, deliver a nationwide charging network, an electric vehicle scrappage scheme and legislation to ban the sale of petrol / diesel cars from 2030. We are also expanding our network of cycling paths and ‘Park and Ride’ facilities, which will be good for the environment and will also ease congestion.
“Under this plan we are going to eliminate non-recyclable plastic and impose higher fees on the production of materials which are difficult to recycle.
“The plan is going to deliver reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture by creating new, sustainable opportunities for family farms.
“This plan is the culmination of a huge amount of work. When Enda Kenny was Taoiseach he established the Citizens Assembly and tasked it with examining the challenge presented by climate breakdown. An all-party Oireachtas Committee, chaired by my colleague Hildegarde Naughton, was then established to respond to the work of the Citizen’s Assembly and they produced a landmark report which has informed Minister Bruton’s plan.
“The all-of-Government approach to this plan is crucial. We will establish a system of 5 year carbon budgets and sector targets, with the relevant Minister responsible for delivering on the target, with penalties if they are not met. Just like the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs, which was also spear-headed by Minister Richard Bruton and was instrumental in restoring Ireland’s economy, this plan contains clear goals and measurable targets.
“We know we have a lot to do. At a time when we should be radically reducing our reliance on carbon, Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions have been rising rapidly. We are currently 85% dependent on fossil fuels.
“We have a short window of opportunity to reverse this trend. The time to act is now and Fine Gael in government will not be found wanting.”