The new Climate Action Plan published last week by the Government will change how people travel around the country, heat their homes as well as changing farming practises and the production of food.
The €125 billion plan, will also change, how food and energy is produced in the country and comes as global world leaders meeting at COP26 this week including Minister Eamon Ryan who travelled to Glasgow for the world summit.
The Government plan aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 51pc by the end of the decade. Under the plan agricultural emissions will have to reduce by between 22 and 30pc by 2030. This compares with 62-80pc for electricity generation, 42-50pc for transport, 44-56pc for buildings and 29-41pc for industry and enterprise. Land us and Forestry will have to reduce by 37-58pc according to the plan.
Launching the plan Taoiseach Micheál Martin said climate action is at the heart of the Government's plans and policies over the next decade.
"It is now crystal clear we need to dramatically reduce the amount of greenhouse gases we are putting into the atmosphere to keep our ecosystems functioning and ensure that our planet is safe and liveable for generations to come," he said.
"Failure to act now is simply not an option."
Kerry TD’s have largely welcomed the plan and the need to implement changes for the climate crisis. However, Kilgarvan TD Danny Healy-Rae whose views on climate change are widely known is adamant that the plan is not needed and is critical of the burden it will place on the people of Ireland.
In particular the Carbon Tax, already in place and a key part of the climate initiatives going forward, he says is placing an extra tax on people.
"I think it is going to adversely affect every man, woman and child in rural Ireland especially in Kerry because anybody with a wheel be a car, lorry or tractor, it will cost them.”
"On top of Carbon Tax we are being charged VAT . People don’t know the differences between the taxes but they know they are being taxed.”
He said that the cost of petrol, diesel and oil is at all-time high and that despite this cost the Government want to further tax people and “tax them beyond their means”
Deputy Danny Healy-Rae (IND) says the plan also “adversely affects farmers”
"It will affect beef, dairy, whatever enterprise you working on. They want to reduce the productivity of farms therefore the viability of farms are at stake. Young people are not staying on the farm and more will leave.”
He said he believes that we do not need a Climate Action Plan as “the climate was changing before there was ever a combustible engine or intensive farming”.
The Kilgarvan TD was very critical of the move by Ireland and Taoiseach Micheál Martin to donate €225 million to a global world fund to tackle Climate Change, particularly when other countries like China, Russia, I India and even the US are “paying no heed to this”
"We are being antagonised beyond belief. The Greens are behind this and Micheál Martin is rolling over and letting them do what they want just to stay in power.”
His brother, Michael Healy-Rae (IND), was also critical of the climate action plan.
"We have to take measures and steps but what we are proposing is crazy. Any type of vehicle is now costing €100 to fill and this is having a knock-one effect on the cost of living. .. Further more there is the sheer stupidity of increasing electricity and reducing carbon emissions but they are closing down the power stations.”
He said that it was his belief that “there is nothing more efficient than a properly maintained diesel engine and that is a fact.”
"They are not telling the people the truth about the electric cars, they are expensive and do damage the environment because of the batteries.
He said the Government are ‘misleading’ famers on agriculture.
"I have challenged the Government on this, they want to reduce emissions and the biggest contributor is animals yet they are saying they don’t want to reduce the herd. They are misleading the people. .. Stop talking gobbledygook .. Minister Ryan is calling farmers climate blaguards he should come into the real world. The farmers of Ireland are custodians of the land and they keep the environment right and the hills right right by grazing and the eco-system. They are not a problem, they are a solution. Instead of working with them they are working against them in a deceitful way.”
Deputy Brendan Griffin (FG) welcomed the plan and said it will need everyone to work together.
“I think the plan gets the balance right and is realistic. Over time, the practical everyday measures that we all can do will become easier and achievable as communities adapt and as climate action infrastructure rolls out. I think it’s also vital that more realistic targets seem to have been set in relation to Agriculture than had been feared, as I had serious concerns that unrealistic targets would have pushed Irish farmers into diminishing returns. There’s no point Paddy in Ireland reducing his herd and cutting production only for Pedro in the Amazon to fill the vacuum less efficiently. I am confident that such unintended global consequences will now be avoided,” he said.
The Kerry TD said that the plan requires a ‘collective effort from everyone” and will need to be spearheaded with honest leadership from all politicians in Irish politics. It is too important to be used as a political football. On a global stage, Ireland will have to continue to pressurise larger and heavily polluting countries to do more to clean up their acts. We can do that with more credibility now than we have reasonable moral authority to do so but it is vital that large countries step up to the mark.”
Meanwhile Sinn Fein’s Pa Daly said the plan does not ‘go far enough’.
"Climate change is real and is already starting to affect Kerry and Ireland, so a plan to address it is important. It is disappointing but not surprising that the government’s plan does not go far enough, coming as it does from parties who have not met a single emissions target in a decade.
“The plan talks big but has little substance, leaving out trade deals such as Mercosur which are so impactful. The plan is mostly built on individual action but does little to support debt ridden workers and families in making those changes.”
"Sinn Féin’s plan would have directed funds towards the most sustainable aspects of Irish farming, such as the Suckler herd and encouraged farmers looking to diversify into areas like organics and forestry. It also would see free fares on public transport for under 18s and funding for retrofitting.”
Education Minister Norma Foley said urgent action is needed.
“We all recognise the need to take urgent action. The proposals we are putting forward are sensible, practical measures that will maximise the benefits to society and our economy and secure our planet for future generations.
“This is also a huge opportunity to create new jobs and grow businesses like offshore wind, cutting-edge agriculture and retrofitting to make our homes warmer and safer. The plan does mean a huge shift in the energy we use, how we manage our waste, our housing stock and transport systems. It is about encouraging and resourcing new behaviours, a policy already highlighted in the Education sector under the Safe Routes to School scheme. We all have a role to play and this plan is the most detailed and concrete plan ever produced by an Irish government.
In Education we too will play our part. We are committed to making the transition to new zero emissions in our schools by 2050 and achieving a 51% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030 through the delivery of the Climate Action Plan. Under our current school building programme, all new schools are A rated, with passive solar design, quality daylighting, quality natural ventilation, LED lighting and controls, individual digital room thermostatic controls, maximum water efficiency, rainwater harvesting, enhanced insulation, significant airtightness, high glazing performance, solar PV, electric vehicle charging and CO2 monitoring.
Key measures in the plan include:
- Increasing the proportion of renewable electricity to up to 80pc by 2030, including an increased target of up to 5 Gigawatts of offshore wind. It said this was crucial as we move away from fossil fuels and towards the electrification of transport, heat and other areas.
- A target of 500,000 more walking, cycling and public transport journeys a day by 2030, in order to slash transport emissions, along with a target of 1m private electric vehicles by 2030.
- Increases in public transport and rail and bus electrification and more use of biofuels, including 1,500 electric buses and better rural links.
- For homes, a new National Retrofit Plan and grant scheme, with 600,000 homes to be fitted with heat pumps, 400,000 of them existing homes.
- The Government said the plan would “give Irish agriculture a a viable future, producing world class food with a lower carbon footprint . Measrues include the reduction in chemical nitrogen and more targeted use of fertiliser, and multi-species grassland for livestock. The plan also promises ‘improving the genetics of our herds to reduce emissions and improve productivity”. Farmers to be incentivised to make these changes, with new income streams in areas such as the generation of renewable energy.