Making all homes energy efficient to cost €50bn, says Varadkar

It will take a further €30bn to phase out petrol and diesel cars, adds Taoiseach

Regarding climate change Leo Varadkar acknowledged there was “lots to be worried about” but added that there will also be “lots of opportunities”.

Regarding climate change Leo Varadkar acknowledged there was “lots to be worried about” but added that there will also be “lots of opportunities”.

 

It will cost €50 billion to bring all homes in Ireland up to the required energy efficient standard and a further €30 billion to phase out petrol and diesel cars, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

Such changes can only be made over time and the Government can help with the cost, the Taoiseach said, but he added that people will have to take responsibility to upgrade their homes and change their cars.

Mr Varadkar was speaking while campaigning in Mullingar, Co Westmeath, with Maria Walsh, a Fine Gael candidate for the European Parliament in the Midlands North West constituency.

He was asked about the proposals contained in a draft of the “All of Government Plan to Tackle Climate Disruption” to be launched by Minister for Climate Action Richard Bruton in the coming weeks.

The Irish Times reported on Saturday that the draft contained proposals to increase the energy efficiency of homes, such as banning the installation of oil and gas boilers and potentially beginning a process to phase out the use of fossil fuel heating systems in all homes within six years, among many others measures. A change to building regulations would compel all homes undergoing a “major renovation” to bring the rest of the structure up to a minimum BER B2 rating.

Retrofitting

By 2030, the draft plan – which is dated from last month and which is understood to be not yet finalised – is targeting the retrofitting of 500,000 domestic homes, the installation of 625,000 heat pumps in buildings, having 700,000 electrical vehicles on the road and having 10 per cent of Ireland’s heat supplied via district heating in cities.

These changes will “potentially” increase the cost of both building and buying houses, Mr Varadkar acknowledged, but he added that “you have to think of the opportunity too”.

“All of us spend an absolute fortune heating our homes. Just think of the amount of money you spend in a lifetime heating your home. If we build energy-efficient buildings, near-zero energy buildings, the actual savings over a lifetime are much greater than the cost of insulating your home or building it right in the first place. That’s a challenge and again a real risk but also a big opportunity.”

When it comes to funding the changes needed to reduce our carbon emissions, he said the Government needed “to be honest with people”.

“The cost of retrofitting and insulating all of our homes in Ireland is about €50 billion. No government of any colour or any party would be able to find that kind of money, even over 10 years, and the cost of changing all of our cars from petrol and diesel to electric again another €20 billion or €30 billion. It’s a huge amount of money and it can only be done over time and government can help with the cost but ultimately the responsibility will fall on individuals over time to change their cars to change their vehicles to upgrade their homes.”

Climate change

Mr Varadkar said that the general public wants the Government to take further action on the issue of climate change. There was “lots to be worried about” but there will also be “lots of opportunities”.

He said that while “people tend to focus on dire predictions and doom”, introducing policies to tackle the effects of climate change will lead to new economic opportunities also.

“Just take the energy space, for example. We spend billions of euro importing oil and gas from other countries. If we double our renewable electricity production from 30 per cent to 70 per cent, not only will we cut down on imports from other countries, we’ll also create lots of jobs in the energy sector here in Ireland. I’d like to talk a little bit more in future about the opportunities that will arise from climate changes.”