Climate Action Plan to be Funded Mostly By Households and Private Sector

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Households, the private sector, and individuals will fork out for the majority of the new Climate Action Plan‘s (CAP) costs. According to The Irish Times, the coalition leaders have confirmed the €125 billion plan – unveiled on Thursday – will not land so heavily on the State.

Containing 475 separate actions covering various sectors, a key aim for the CAP is a 51% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030. Other targets include an increase of up to 80% in the usage of renewable electricity and 845,000 electric vehicles on the road by the end of the decade. Although speaking at a press conference, coalition leaders confirmed much of the funding for the new measures would not come from the State.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin predicted it would require people to comply to “a profound change” in lifestyle over the coming decade. Mr Martin said this would include adaptations to homes, with workplaces and communities all required to change. The Taoiseach further added that if successful, this generation, and future generations of Irish people, will reap the benefits.

Mr Martin, backed by Tánaiste Varadkar and Minister for Climate Change and Transport Eamon Ryan, emphasised that funding will mostly come from business, the pockets of individuals, and households. Insisting it will involve spending that would happen in any instance, the Coalition leaders say it will now be repurposed because of the plan.

That €125 billion is primarily private investment,” Mr Ryan said. “It is an investment that will take place in any case, people buying cars, people improving their homes. A lot of what we want to do is [get people to] switch, from a combustion engine to an EV; and from an ordinary refurbishment [of a house] to one that puts energy efficiency into the project.”

According to Mr Ryan, the ESB and EirGrid will spend the largest portion of public finance on upgrading the grid. €35 billion of public money has also been committed to transport by last month’s National Development Plan, with almost €13 billion to climate change during this decade.

The Taoiseach said grants and supports would be made available to ease the costs for motorists, although no details have been outlined as yet of future grants. Funding towards the cost of purchasing electric vehicles (EV) or retrofitting homes have been mooted. “Likewise, with retrofitting there will be a balance between grants and support from the State balanced with some private-sector funding”.

Tánaiste Varadkar said no such scheme is included in this plan, although it might be considered in future. Although nobody is going to “coerce” people into buying EVs or retrofit homes, he said the plan will put the “right incentives and disincentives” in place, tipping the balance in favour of such decisions.

Responding to the plan, Sinn Féin TD Darren O’Rourke said it was “high on rhetoric and short on detail”.

The party’s spokesperson for climate believes the figures presented by Government “don’t stack up”, adding: “Let’s remember that this plan is coming from parties that have not met one climate target in the last decade; other than their plan to increase carbon taxes.”

Many of the targets and measures are not new at all – they have been announced before and not delivered. That doesn’t inspire confidence and doesn’t bode well for the type of ambitious change we need to see,” Mr O’Rourke said.

The Government is throwing around a lot of large figures here, which obscures the fact that much of this isn’t going to be financed by them but will be coming out of the pockets of ordinary workers and families as ‘private finance’. It is extraordinary that they think people drowning in debt and facing sky high bills are going to be able to retrofit their homes and buy electric cars.”

Although Labour’s climate spokesperson, Ivana Bacik TD welcomes the plan, she believes a clear timeline for its implementation must be offered. “I’m concerned that many of the measures in this plan are too future focused, with little detail on the steps that will be taken today to achieve a greener tomorrow. What is needed now is clear ambition for immediate and urgent action.”

Although the 200-page plan outlines ambitious targets for energy, electricity, transport, and the built environment, agriculture has received modest cuts (between 22 and 30%). The primary focus in that sector will be a sharp reduction in the use of chemical fertilisers and an increase in organic farming. There are no specific proposals for how the national herd will be stabilised as Mr Martin said there was “an obsession with the issue of the herd”. Arguing the point that agriculture will play its part “in terms of the reduction of emissions”, Martin said food production was hugely important.