Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot yesterday (17 June 2019) welcomed the publication of the All Government Climate Action Plan and highlights the need for an all island perspective on how we transition to a low carbon economy.
“The publication of this plan is welcomed by the business community. Supporting the transition to a low carbon economy is identified as one of the central priorities of our network of chambers nationwide. If we are to realise the collective goal of tackling climate disruption, investment from Government and collaboration with business must be at the heart of its delivery.
As with any strategy, the implementation plan is key. This will be one of the most important programmes of activity undertaken by the State, involving an extraordinary number of distinct but interdependent projects. We need to see alignment between the Climate Action Plan and existing programmes, like Project 2040, involving the right kind of expertise, regular reporting and appropriate oversight.
We need the Government to outline how it intends to support Border communities throughout the decarbonisation process. We cannot guarantee that carbon taxes will proceed in a co-ordinated fashion on an all-island basis, therefore we need clarity from Government on what it intends to do to ensure that businesses in border communities do not suffer. We must also ensure that our current carbon tax revenue is used to invest in the parts of the country where low carbon options for transport and home heating are less available. Consumers will only be able to change behaviour where alternatives are at hand.
Successfully transitioning to a low carbon economy will incur large, up-front costs and we shouldn’t assume that SMEs and consumers will be able to absorb these costs on their own. They will need assistance. We must be realistic about the investment that is required to support businesses and the community to transition. Access to supports, advice and incentives, throughout the country, will be a big part of ensuring success and we will need to ensure that government seriously invests in training so that we have the skills in industry to support the plan. It is imperative that Budget 2020 includes immediate funding to begin this process of investment.
Regarding infrastructure, if we are to successfully decarbonise heat and transport in order to meet our 70% renewable energy targets by 2030, we need Government to prioritise investment in our electricity network and grid infrastructure. As part of this, we urgently need to introduce a legal framework that enables rollout of offshore wind energy. Without this framework, we will not be able to capitalise on our geographic advantage and potential.
Within the report, we particularly welcome commitments to fund more low carbon public transport and additional electrical vehicle infrastructure throughout our towns and cities. However, we urge Government to ensure that investment in EV infrastructure in commuter belts is also prioritised.
The All Government Climate Action Plan to tackle climate breakdown is a programme that is critical to the well-being and prosperity of our communities. If it is to be effective it must create feasible routes to the positive goal of decarbonisation.
If we neglect the real-world obstacles that will delay and inhibit this plan, we undermine it.”