The significant financial investment for Climate Action measures in Budget 2021 will go a long way towards ensuring Ireland makes a just transition to a green economy and low carbon society, A Fine Gael Senator has said.
Louth Senator John McGahon is Fine Gael’s Seanad spokesperson on Climate, Communications, Energy & Natural Resources.
Speaking in the Seanad during Statements on Budget 2021, Senator McGahon said, “We have a really ambitious National Home Retrofit Scheme and Budget 2021 has ensured the largest ever amount of funding for this; €221.5 million in capital funding for residential and community retrofit.
“Climate change presents such an urgent crisis for the world and it is really important everyone is aware of it. It would be welcome if we could galvanise a similar response to what we have seen with the pandemic; that we are all in it together. With that in mind it is so important that we assist low income people and families with the transition to a green economy and a low carbon society. €109 million is being set aside to help those from lower income households to upgrade their homes.
“The Retrofit Scheme really is a flagship project and homeowners can make huge savings in energy bills by retrofitting their home, while at the same contributing to the reduction of national energy consumption, thereby helping to mitigate climate change.
“The scheme is also really good for local job creation which is very welcome news with the hit our economy has taken due to COVID-19. Budget 2021 places a big focus on training and upskilling to help reduce unemployment, and it is encouraging to see the creation of 1,500 places on new and existing training course specialising in retrofitting.
“A further €9 million is provided for the Warmth and Wellbeing Pilot Scheme which aims to improve the living conditions of vulnerable people living with chronic respiratory conditions through free, extensive energy efficiency upgrades to eligible homes making the home warmer and cosier to live in. An increase to the Fuel Allowance in Budget 2021 is designed to ensure that the increases in the carbon tax are progressive.
“€1.8 billion has been secured in Budget 2021 for sustainable mobility, including public transport, carbon reduction programmes, active travel and greenways.
“In terms of electric vehicles, we need to make it easier for people to make the transition from petrol and diesel cars. That’s why it’s important that Budget 2021 makes provision for the roll out of EV’s and related charging infrastructure in 2021. People need to feel that they can get from Dublin to Cork without battery anxiety or lack of charging points. With the substantial investment in grants for charging infrastructure, we are making it easier and more sustainable for people to make that switch. An Electric Vehicle grant will make it more attractive for taxi and hackney drivers to make the switch also.
“The climate crisis is the defining issue of our generation. We only have one chance to reverse the climate breakdown that we are seeing around the world. By implementing measures to make the transition to a green economy easier for everyone on our island, together we will reduce our carbon footprint as a society.”