The Government’s much-anticipated Climate Action Plan has been launched, with expectations that Ireland’s vehicles could go totally electric in a few decades.
The Government has today (17 June) published its long-awaited Climate Action Plan, detailing more than 180 actions to deal with the realities of the ongoing climate crisis. The plan’s purpose – based on recommendations from the Joint Oireachtas Committee and Citizens’ Assembly – aims to bring Ireland on course to meet its 2030 emissions reduction targets.
As per agreements with the EU, Ireland aims to achieve a 30pc reduction in emissions by 2030, despite many projections saying that we will fall wide of the mark, even with the new measures. The Government has admitted that given we are still 85pc dependent on fossil fuels, we only have “a short window of opportunity to reverse this trend”.
The document includes a number of measures to tackle Ireland’s biggest polluting sectors, including transport, agriculture and energy. One of the big talking points prior to its release was the Government’s plans for electric vehicles (EVs).
By 2030, a ban will be placed on the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars, with plans to introduce a scrappage scheme to boost the number of EVs in Ireland. It is notable that the Government is now committing to have 950,000 EVs on Irish roads by 2030, up from an estimated 8,000 expected to be registered by 2020.
In efforts to ease congestion, the new plan will also cater for the expansion of cycle paths and the introduction of more ‘park and ride’ facilities.
In the energy space, the plan will work to have 70pc of Ireland’s electricity generated from renewable sources by 2030 and introduce a new microgeneration scheme. This would allow homeowners to generate their own electricity and sell what they don’t use back to the national grid.
A new retrofit plan will cater for up to 500,000 homes, with the Government promising that large groups of houses will be retrofitted by the same contractor to reduce costs. These costs can then be paid off by the homeowner through ‘smart finance’ and ‘easy pay-back methods’. Another retrofitting programme will install 400,000 cleaner heat pumps in homes and businesses to replace older, less energy-efficient ones.
‘Government doesn’t have all the answers’
A system of five-year carbon budgets and sector targets will be set out, with each Minister responsible for any failures to meet them, facing penalties under a new Climate Action Act. With plans to have Ireland carbon-neutral by 2050, this Act will also enshrine the targets into law.
The Government’s plans for agriculture include the promotion of new, sustainable opportunities for family farms and will be largely based on Teagasc’s Emissions Roadmap.
Speaking at the launch, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, TD, said: “The greatest responsibility we have is to pass on our planet to the next generation in a better condition than we inherited it. With this plan we are making changes now, before it is too late, to ensure we do exactly that.
“We recognise that Government doesn’t have all the answers. So, we will work with people, industry and communities to chart the best and most inclusive way forward.”
The Government lead behind the report was Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton, TD, who said the plan “sets out radical reforms”.
He continued: “We will be doing things in new, innovative ways. Most of the actions set out will actually save money in the long run. We will now implement this plan, rolling out the required actions through a sustained effort.
“This is a life-changing journey and it is a rapid, transformative adjustment that is required. Nothing less will do. We must all now take up the challenge.”