Government will ‘nudge people and businesses to change behaviour’

Bruton says ‘the most vulnerable must not be left behind during the transition to sustainability’

Moneypoint generating station. The plan confirms that the coal-fuelled power station is due to close by 2025. Photograph:  Neil Warner for ESB

Moneypoint generating station. The plan confirms that the coal-fuelled power station is due to close by 2025. Photograph: Neil Warner for ESB

 

The Government will “nudge people and businesses to change behaviour” in a bid to tackle climate change and reduce carbon emissions in an ambitious programme concentrated on the period up to 2030, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

Launching the Government’s plan “to tackle climate breakdown”, Mr Varadkar said the strategy did not seek to find the moral high ground but to find a common ground on climate action which gave a “platform which we can all work on”.

The plan envisages almost 1 million electric vehicles in Ireland within the next decade; bans on oil-fired boilers in new homes from 2022, and for gas boilers by 2025; and the phasing out of coal and peat-fired electricity generation, among other 180 measures. It will also begin an ambitious retrofit “easy pay scheme” that will see 500,000 homes retrofitted to B2 energy standard.

Mr Varadkar said the plan mapped out “a way forward that is both effective and sensible”.

“One that achieves our targets, and in a way that is thought through and considered, supports employment and living standards and enables a just transition.”

He added: “Our approach will be to nudge people and businesses to change behaviour, adapt new technologies through incentives, disincentives, regulations and information.”

The plan was launched at Technological University Dublin’s Grangegorman campus with 12 members of the Cabinet in attendance. They arrived at the venue on one of Dublin Bus’s new hybrid vehicles.

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton said the plan would involve “radical change in the way we do things”.

Exposed to change

He said the plan emphasised the next decade until 2030 as the period in which change could be brought about which was “most economic and would create the least burden on our people”.

The most vulnerable must not be left behind during the transition to sustainability. We have to be fair to those who are most exposed to change,” Mr Bruton said.

“Every generation wants to leave the world in a better place than they found it for their children. We have a short window of opportunity to act. We must act now and leave a better, healthier, more sustainable Ireland for future generations. This plan provides our way forward.”

It would cut reliance on carbon, making our businesses more competitive, homes more sustainable and farms more efficient. “We will be doing things in new innovative ways. Most of the actions set out will actually save money in the long-run.”

The plan confirms Moneypoint power station (fuelled by coal) is due to close by 2025, while the phasing out of peat-fuelled stations in the midlands is due by 2028. However, it commits to “a just transition”, particularly in supporting workers and communities who will be directly affected.

On agriculture much of the emphasis is on changes in farming practice, land-use management, biodiversity and adoption of new technologies.

New forestry

Afforestation will also be scaled up to increase capacity to capture carbon. The plan proposes an additional 8,000 hectares of new forestry every year for the next five years.

Implicit in the plan, but not stated, is an unspecified fall in the national herd, particularly in the beef sector.

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said farmers would be making a significant contribution to reducing Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“The contribution from agriculture is significant and includes not only a commitment to efficiency gains but also carbon removals through forestry and management of organic soils, and identifies opportunities for a contribution to energy production and efficiency.”

Ireland’s food producers and farmers had a good reputation internationally in terms of the sustainability of the food and drink they produce.

“It is a reputation that we can be justifiably proud of. With a growing global demand for food and a rapidly-evolving marketplace seeking confirmation of our sustainability credentials, farmers have engaged proactively in recent years in improving the carbon footprint of our produce.”