Time is running out, so we must invest in climate action now. Labour brought in Ireland’s first climate change laws, and the city bike schemes, and we can be relied on to cut emissions and to build a low carbon economy.
Climate Targets and Funding
Labour will develop a more ambitious climate change strategy, with clear actions based on science. Labour will achieve Ireland’s climate targets in a way that is socially just, by creating new sustainable jobs and eliminating fuel poverty.
Labour will halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 as a legal requirement, and we will enforce annual “carbon budgets” to limit greenhouse gas emissions in each sector of the economy. Public agencies will be required to be more ambitious and to become carbon neutral by 2030.
We will also implement all the recommendations of the Oireachtas all-party report Climate Change and ring-fence all money from Carbon Tax to fund warmer homes, public transport, new sustainable jobs and other measures to reduce hardship caused by the transition to a low carbon economy.
Invest in Renewable Energy
Labour will facilitate the development of renewable electricity, especially off-shore wind generation. We will seek changes to EU rules to define pumped hydroelectricity plants as energy storage, and part of grid operations, rather than as power stations. This will allow Eirgrid to invest in more of these facilities as a mechanism to manage variable electricity supply from wind. We will roll out a scheme to provide all schools and colleges with solar panels. This will lower their energy bills and ultimately pay for itself.
Cut Our Emissions From Fossil Fuels
Labour will close down all coal-, peat- and oil- burning power stations, while using the existing subsidy to support Bord na Móna workers and other workers affected. We will ban offshore drilling or any further extraction of fossil fuels on Ireland’s land or waters, with no renewal of existing licences when they expire, as well as banning the importation and storage of fracked gas. Finally, we will fund the rewetting of industrial bogs and the restoration of peatlands. These will provide an important carbon sink and reduce national greenhouse gas emissions.
Prioritise Investment in Walking, Cycling and Public Transport
Labour will invest in walking and cycling infrastructure, to encourage people in cities and large towns to make the change to sustainable and healthier forms of transportation. We will dedicate 10% of the national transport budget to the development of cycling and walking infrastructure, which will allow us to expand the Public Bikes schemes to large towns, introduce a bike-to-school scheme, and introduce a network of safe and segregated off-road Walking and Cycling Highways.
Labour will invest in public transport infrastructure (i.e. Luas and rail carriages, and buses) to replace, modernise and ensure capacity will meet future demand and prioritise major public transport projects such as the DART Underground, Luas extensions and Metro to Dublin Airport/Fingal. These measures will ease traffic congestion, improve our air quality and general well-being as well as significantly reducing our climate emissions.
Cleaner Water, Air and Recycling of Waste
Labour will implement a nationwide ban on cancer-causing smoky coal, as part of a wider strategy to improve air quality and reduce pollution. Labour will improve water quality through enhanced inspection and enforcement.
Labour will ban food waste by supermarkets and large retail chains, implement the coming EU ban on single-use plastics and promote the development of indigenous enterprises providing plastic substitutes made from Irish-grown wood. In the short term, we will introduce a deposit return scheme for glass and plastic bottles and containers and extend the plastic bag levy to other single-use items, including disposable coffee cups.
Warmer Homes and Lower Energy Bills
Labour will fund local government to deliver an ambitious home insulation scheme, targeting 100,000 homes each year recommended by the Climate Change Advisory Council. This will be rolled out to all council-owned properties and will be available on a street-by-street basis for homeowners. A mix of subsidies and grants will be available. This will give people warmer homes and lower energy bills and lower the incidence of fuel poverty, reduce carbon emissions and create new apprenticeships and sustainable jobs.
Just Transition and More Sustainable Jobs
Labour will support the trade union Just Transition to a low carbon economy and we will provide a Job Guarantee to any worker who loses their job due to climate action. We will create a Just Transition Fund to invest in state enterprises that are helping workers and communities to make the transition to a low carbon economy.
We will transfer workers to new roles in other state enterprises, with retraining and upskilling provided.
Labour will invest in the ESB, Coillte and Bord na Móna to create new sustainable jobs in clean energy, recycling and land management. This will ensure a positive future for workers and for regions that are most at risk from the loss of polluting industries. Labour will also expand the number of apprenticeships, which will help us meet our ambitious climate targets.
Rural Transport Guarantee
Labour will target electric vehicle grants to those who need them and will increase the number of charging points, especially in rural Ireland where people may be car dependent.
Labour will increase the availability and affordability of public transport in rural areas. We will ensure that every schoolchild in rural areas has a place on a school bus, expand the Local Links scheme and re-launch a simplified version of the Rural Hackney Scheme.
Support Farmers to Invest in Sustainable Agriculture
Labour will create a Farm Income Diversification Scheme to help boost farm family incomes and to promote alternative, sustainable uses of farm land. We will provide a range of supports to help farm modernisation and the next generation of young farmers, including by reintroducing the Early Retirement Scheme (ERS3), extending TAMS II beyond 2020 and implementing a standardised and simplified Hedge Cutting Grant scheme for farmers.
We will develop a national investment strategy for biomethane production to cut our greenhouse gas emissions while also creating additional income streams for farmers. We will support the growth of diverse and organic farming methods to enhance biodiversity outcomes.