€2 billion from carbon tax revenue for retrofitting

3rd February, 2020

FG pledge additional €244 million investment for Just Transition in the Midlands

Fine Gael will marry real climate action with economic stability and deliver real change according to Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, and Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton today (Monday).

Minister Bruton made his comments as Fine Gael announced that one third of the €6 billion carbon tax revenue will be ring-fenced for retrofitting should the party be re-elected to government. An additional €244 million of the proceeds of the carbon tax will be invested to support the transition away from peat burning in the Midlands over the next five years.

Fine Gael’s costed and achievable plans stand in stark contrast to Fianna Fáil and Sinn Fein who are both watery in the extreme on climate action.

Minister Bruton said:

“Within one hundred days of being re-elected to office, Fine Gael will publish a new retrofitting plan for Ireland.

“This builds on what we have done, particularly in Budget 2020. We will ring-fence one third of the €6 billion carbon tax revenue for retrofitting, meaning a total investment in retrofitting homes to €5.8 billion.

“This will not only reduce the country’s emissions by one third by 2030 but also upgrade 500,000 homes. Fine Gael’s new plan will replace the current ad-hoc retrofitting model and, instead, group homes together, develop easy pay-back models and put smart finance in place (See Note at end)

“Our plan will have a very regional spread, with the initial focus obviously being on the midlands. This will mean that we will be able to build up an expertise in this in the midlands, providing employment opportunities there for the years ahead.”

Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, focused on Fine Gael’s transport plan saying:

“Fine Gael will deliver real climate action that cuts the country’s reliance on fossil fuels. Our transport plan will result in €8 Billion invested and will deliver better public transport with reduced journey times:

In particular:

  • Bus Connects will see 60 million extra journeys per year and 50% shorter journey times.
  • Metro Link will result in 20,000 journeys per hour in each direction.
  • Irish Rail upgrades will see 26,000 extra journeys per hour in each direction.

“Cycling will be central to transport with €600m of the carbon tax ring-fenced for it.”

Minister Donohoe went on to say that Fianna Fáil and Sinn Fein’s carbon action policies are ‘watery at best’:

“Following Fine Gael’s lead, Fianna Fáil has committed to the carbon tax reaching €80 by 2030. However, they have remained silent as to how they will do that. Meaning they cannot make a similar commitment to ours, and are leaving the door open to major hikes in any one year. Sinn Féin are not committed to increasing the carbon tax. This coupled with their watery climate action manifesto suggests that they believe we can achieve carbon reductions by good wishes alone.”

Fine Gael Laois Offaly Candidate Marcella Corocoran-Kennedy outline details of the party’s plans to support workers and regions impacted by de-carbonisation of the economy, particularly the Midlands.

“Fine Gael will use the proceeds of the carbon tax to invest an additional €244 million to support the transition away from peat burning in the Midlands over the next five years. This is on top of €116 million which we have already committed.

“This Just Transition investment is focused on:

  • €200 Million for a home upgrade programme. This will upgrade council homes, former Bord na Mona housing estates and private homes under our new National Retrofitting Plan.
  • €50 Million Just Transition Fund for retraining opportunities and community development
  • €30 Million investment in the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) for bog and habitat restoration on non-Bord na Mona lands
  • €80m repurposed PSO for European Commission Enhanced Peatland Restoration & Rehabilitation scheme

“Talks are continuing at EU level to finalise the next EU budget. It is likely that an additional €7.5 billion of EU funding will be made available across the EU to support just transition. It is imperative that the next Irish government is able to negotiate a fair share of this funding for the Midlands. We need to build on our success at EU level last year when we secured the Midlands participation in the EU Coal Regions in Transition.”


Note to Editors

Summary of FG Retrofitting Plan:

We will ring-fence one third of the €6 Billion carbon tax revenue for retrofitting, meaning a total state investment in retrofitting homes to €5.8 Billion.

The current model of retrofitting is too ad hoc, with individuals seeking individual grants to get upgrades done. Our new plan will:

  • Group homes in the same area together to drive down costs.
  • Start with social homes owned by the local authorities, and move to include privately-owned properties in the community.
  • Provide easy access to advice and assurance on work standards.
  • Develop easy pay-back models allowing people to pay as they save (e.g., through utility bills)
  • Put smart finance in place (e.g. loan guarantee models, European Investment Bank funding).

State investment will be only one part of the model to upgrade 500,000 homes. 

We will also develop lower cost green loans and easy pay back models. We will also phase out the installation of oil and gas boilers in all new homes. We will work to ensure the supply side can deliver this ambition:

  1. Build capacity in the building industry for retrofitting.
  2. Develop new technology to ensure retrofitting can be done faster and in a less labour intensive fashion.

Emissions will be reduced by one third by 2030.