Budget 2017: Government’s plan to meet climate targets revealed

12 Oct 2016

Pine tree deforestation. Image: lowsun/Shutterstock

The Department for Communications, Climate Action & Environment has laid out the funding for its attempt to ensure we meet – or at least come close to – our agreed climate targets.

While the vast majority of those watching Budget 2017 were anxious to see how it would affect their day-to-day lives, the Government revealed how it plans to get us one step closer to meeting our future clean energy targets.

With one of the highest agricultural outputs in the EU, Ireland has been given some of the greatest leeway in terms of limits on how much carbon emissions it is allowed to release, as part of its agreement with the European Commission.

Future Human

Ambitious 2020 targets

However, other targets still remain for Ireland to achieve and, based on current statistics, it would appear that they are unlikely to be met. One example of this is the aim to reduce our emissions by 20pc for 2020.

In our current guise, we are only just over the halfway point at this stage, with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland revealing that an overhaul is needed to bring us up to speed.

So, as part of Budget 2017, the Government has announced that it will spend over €100m in 2017 on energy projects with the aim of reducing our carbon emissions by 116,000 each year.

€24m will also be spent on expanding energy efficiency and renewable energy programmes across the country, grouped in with the establishment of a €500,000 forum to discuss best climate practices.

For homeowners, €7m has been allocated to a new Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme, while a further €2m will be given to the Better Energy Homes Scheme to support individual householders in making energy efficiency improvements to their homes.

Some other schemes will also be introduced, including the €4m Better Energy Communities Scheme and the €8m Warmth and Wellbeing pilot scheme for people living in energy poverty.

EV schemes keep rolling on

One of the possible solutions to getting us closer to EU climate targets was the ambitious and rapid expansion of electric vehicles (EVs) in Ireland to the point that 20pc of all cars on Irish roads would be EVs by 2020.

The Government is contemplating a number of ways to make this more of a possibility, including opening bus lanes to EVs, but in the meantime, Budget 2017 is continuing many of the incentives it has laid out before.

Among them is the continuation of VRT relief of up to €5,000 on EVs, while hybrids and plug-in hybrids receive €1,500 and €2,500 in relief, respectively.

Whether this has any effect on sales remains to be seen, as current Central Statistics Office figures show EV sales in Ireland accounted for just 357 vehicles as recently as September.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic