Climate change: Some 30,000 houses to be retrofitted next year

Communications Minister Denis Naughten Picture: Arthur Carron

Paul Melia

THE number of homes to be retrofitted, making them warmer and cheaper to heat, will increase by 5,000 to 30,000 next year.

Communications, Climate Action and Environment Minister Denis Naughten said a commitment to retrofit one million homes by 2020 would not be met, but that State investment in energy efficiency and renewables would help achieve climate change targets.

The Government plans to spend €100m next year on energy projects designed to save 116,000 tonnes of carbon and help support 3,000 jobs.

Mr Naughten also revealed that €500,000 would be spent on a National Dialogue on Climate Change, with ratification of the Paris climate agreement due to take place in the coming weeks.

He said the State was playing “catch up” in relation to its obligations on climate change.

“This is as much an opportunity as an obligation,” he said. “In any event, it is our children’s future and a vital national interest.”

There is concern about the lack of new incentives to encourage motorists to switch to electric vehicles, beyond the extension of the VRT exemption announced in Finance Minister Michael Noonan’s Budget speech.

Mr Naughten said he expected just 1,000 to be sold in 2017, up from 500 this year.

His department will have an overall budget of €529m for 2017.

Among the main measures include:

* A €24m overall increase in funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy programmes, an increase of 35pc on last year.

* Some €7m to be spent on a renewable heating incentive scheme for large energy users.

* An additional €2m to support homeowners upgrading their homes.

* €4m extra for communities making upgrades, totalling €22m.

* €8m upgrading homes for low-income households.

Mr Naughten said the national dialogue on climate change would not just engage “with the usual suspects” but with young people.

“It’s the young people who will need to make the changes required and deal with the consequences of this,” he said.

“We’re talking about reaching our targets for 2050. The people we need to engage with are the people in their 20s, 30s and 40s who will have to deliver that change. They need to lead this debate. “We have to engage with all of the sectors and in relation to the delivery it’s important we bring them along with us.”