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COMMENT: Government’s climate change plan a sensible and fair path

Monday, 24th June, 2019 7:59am
COMMENT: Government’s climate change plan a sensible and fair path
COMMENT: Government’s climate change plan a sensible and fair path

YOUNG people across Dublin and the country have led the way in calling for more action to meet the climate challenge. They recognise the urgency of the issue and how critical it is for their generation that we take radical action now.

We can already see the impact that human behaviour is having on the world we pass on to our children. Extreme weather events such as the recent storms and heavy snowfall seen in Dublin brought the city to a standstill with schools and businesses forced to close. Other countries have witnessed even worse effects. 

 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 if we are to reduce our reliance on carbon and leave a better, healthier, more sustainable Ireland for future generations.

 The changes required are profound. They will involve changes to how we heat our homes, how we plan our journeys, how we manage our farms or businesses. We are putting in place the structures to make these choices easier but they will require a sustained effort from everyone if we are to be successful. 

 The benefit is clear. By making these changes now, we are putting ourselves on a more sustainable path which will ultimately secure a more resilient country for future generations. Our businesses will be more competitive, our homes more sustainable and our farms more efficient. 

 I have worked closely with all of my colleagues to develop this whole of Government Climate Action Plan. It sets out a path which is sensible and fair. It includes actions across all sectors - heat, transport, housing, public sector and agriculture with timelines and clear lines of responsibility. From now on we will have emissions targets for each sector with accountability for delivering them. The Government has set aside €30 billion in the National Development Plan to support this transition. 

 We plan for a rapid increase in the number of electric vehicles on our roads and will build a nationwide charging network to support them. We will replace fossil fuel dependent heating systems with heat pumps in our homes. We will improve farming practices, making them more sustainable.

We will increase the amount of our electricity that is generated from renewable energy to 70 percent and develop a framework so that people can sell excess energy from their home solar panels back onto the grid. We will ban the use of non-recyclable plastics and place increased fees on companies who use difficult to recycle materials. 

 We are taking care to support those people who are most exposed or least equipped to meet the change. A ‘Just Transition Group’ will advise on how this can best be done. If together we succeed, Dublin will be a better place to live, work and raise a family. 

Richard Bruton is the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

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