A fund to encourage companies to be innovative on climate change has €1 million in grants to give away.
The ‘Dragons’ Den for climate’ applies specifically to ideas that can be applied in developing countries.
It comes a week after a major report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that at least 3.3 billion people were already suffering serious effects from climate change.
The vast majority of those are in poor and developing countries least equipped to deal with the consequences.
The report said while efforts to bring climate change under control must continue, much more attention was now needed for adaptation measures to help people, nature, food systems, infrastructure and economies cope with the impacts already evident.
Overseas Aid Minister Colm Brophy said the new Irish Aid Enterprise Fund for International Climate Action would help small Irish companies with solid business ideas that could help but lacked funding get their project into production.
Projects can range from physical devices to software, from an individualised solution for a particular need to something that can be replicated many times for different circumstances.
“We’re trying to be as open and as broad as we can on this,” the minister said.
“We’ll look at any type of project that a commercial organisation would be interested in developing that would have a direct benefit in terms of climate action.
“For want of a better description, it’s a Dragons’ Den for small Irish companies that have a great project in the climate area and want to come in and make their pitch to the experts.
“We will give them start-up capital to get them out there and get them under way.”
The judges will also be on the look-out for projects that work with and develop local talent on the ground in developing countries, and that have a strong gender equity focus.
The number of grants awarded will depend on the projects. The maximum single grant available is €300,000 so there may be a small number of large awards or a mix of large and small.
An information day for prospective applicants will be held on March 24 and applications close at the end of April.
Awards are expected to be made during the summer.
Mr Brophy said last week’s IPCC report was yet another reminder that there is no time to lose in addressing climate change.
“The key message that came through is that we are running out of time at an ever-faster rate.”
He said implementation of the promises made at last year’s UN climate summit, COP26, must not be abandoned despite the many other issues vying for attention.
“Sustained implementation is vital. That is difficult on the ground,” he said.
“As you can see, the world gets buffeted. Whether it’s a pandemic or a horrendous war in Ukraine, the focus of world leaders, the focus of international organisations and institutions, shifts.
“But the importance of the next 10 years has been brought home to us by that report.
“If we’re not willing to put in place the type of measures in terms of societal change, then the situation we’re facing could be considerably worse than what we envisaged even a short while ago.”