STATE MUST LEAD ON ENERGY EFFICIENCY
Labour spokesperson on energy, Sean Sherlock has said that if we are serious about meeting carbon reduction targets the State must lead on energy efficiency across its infrastructure, with energy audits and specific targets for all public buildings, a deep renovation programme and increased funding for residential and commercial building retrofitting.
Deputy Sherlock said:
“Ireland will miss our 2020 emission reduction targets by a country mile. While we wait for the Government’s National Mitigation Plan, it is time for a wider public discussion on what we must do, and how we will do it – to reduce our carbon emissions and re-orientate our economy.
“At Labour Party Conference we will have a major debate on climate change and how Ireland can meet it’s carbon reduction targets in a serious and practical way. Even if all the Government measures in the pipeline were implemented, we still wouldn’t meet our 2020 targets, never mind future ones.
“If we are serious about at least trying to meet our targets, the State must lead on energy efficiency – across its own network of buildings, in building regulations, with legally enforced targets, and in providing the supports for ordinary people and business to undertake deep retrofitting.
“A full energy audit of all State owned buildings, with actionable targets on both central Government and its agencies on how they will improve their energy efficiency would be a signal of intent. Linking such targets, such as energy use, heat loss and mitigation measures to future operational funding would provide the incentive needed to kick start real action.
“Sustainable energy is worth €1.5 billion to the economy and employs 18,000 people. However, we are barely scratching the surface with current SEAI programmes, and cannot rely solely on grants and PR campaigns. Attic and wall insulation alone won’t reduce our carbon emissions by the amount needed.
“Advanced sustainable design, along with clear incentives to save energy are needed. Every new home must met certain standards, but should it also apply to second hand homes for sale, with incentives on stamp duty or local property tax? These are the kind of debates we need now, not in a few years’ time.
“Increased energy efficiency also lowers fuel poverty, and improves health. Cold damp housing can be addressed quickly with the right capital investment, reducing future current expenditure on health bills and fuel subsidies. That is why more ambitious programmes of capital investment are needed.
“Adopting an approach based on community projects – whether it’s an estate, a terrace of houses, or the length of a country road – helping each house there become warmer, drier and more energy efficient is the path we need to take.
“Up to now we have also relied on voluntary energy management standards but California has taken the lead with regulations to compel the commercial and industrial sectors to meet mandatory energy efficiency rules. Such an approach should also be considered here alongside incentives, whether through direct grants or taxation measures.”