Words: Dray Morgan
On 10 October, as part of the Budget, Minister Eamonn Ryan unveiled the Irish Government’s one billion Euro plan to tackle climate change and energy usage. However, looking deeper into Ireland’s eco-infrastructure, it may be more of a challenge than we think.
In a bid to cut emissions by half in the next ten years, 150 million euro on climate action, almost 500 million euro on energy transformation, 100 million euro on protecting our environment as well as 400 hundred million on improving communication infrastructure has been announced in the most recent budget. Not including improvements to communications, the overall budget dedicated to green policy is actually down by 10 million euro this year.
A huge push for solar panel implementation in households has been announced, with 300 million euro, the most ever allocated, for one-off grants to installation. Currently, only five per cent of Ireland’s energy usage. However, 36 per cent of Ireland’s total energy is made up by wind power.
The plan also promises to combat energy poverty. Energy poverty is defined by a lack of access to modern energy infrastructure or spending more than ten per cent of income on powering and heating households. Currently, in Ireland, 29 per cent of inhabitants are classed as living in energy poverty compared to 13 per cent in the UK and 7.76 per cent in France. Those who fall into these categories are also far more likely to be elderly or part of a vulnerable group.
In a journey to achieve a net zero nation by 2050, 45 million euro has been allocated to areas that are affected the most by moving away from unsustainable forms of energy. This particularly applies to the wider midlands region to preserve the communities built around peat mining.
A new Deposit Return Scheme is also being implemented. Much like Germany, Canada and Scandinavia, Ireland will introduce a financial incentive to recycle cans and bottles. From 1 February 2024, 20 cents for plastic bottles and 10 cents for cans and bottles will be added to prices and refunded when customers return their waste to designated collection points. The Government have claimed this could reduce beverage container waste by up to 90 per cent.
20 million euro has also been dedicated to reclaiming former landfill sites. As of January 2022, there are 69 historic landfill sites. There are currently only three open in Ireland, down from 120 in 1992.
The plan continues record-breaking budget allocations to green ventures which have risen year-on-year. Totalling at €1.159 billion, with the goal, “to support families and communities with energy costs while continuing the drive towards a low-carbon, digitally-connected future”.
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