As a country, we must work to tackle climate change and reduce our own impact on the environment. Climate change is a priority for the Government - we recognise the enormous effort that is needed.
With this in mind, Minister Richard Bruton and the rest of Government are introducing a number of measures to work towards developing our society into one which is more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Under the Project Ireland 2040 National Development Plan, €1 in every €5 will go towards climate protection measures. Other actions we are taking include:
• In 2019, we will spend over €780 million on public transport, including the Green Line Luas; Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann will also invest in low-emission buses. • A new 1% VRT surcharge on new and imported diesel cars to discourage their use; • €13 million to support electric vehicles this year; • Tax reliefs for hybrid and electric cars have been extended; • €103.5 million for improvements in grant and premium rates for planting forests; • A Government funded education and awareness programme around recycling; • All Government departments, including my own, will ban the use single-use plastic, cups and straws; • The Government will prohibit certain products containing plastic micro-beads; • €164 million for energy efficiency and renewable energy objectives;
• A new €500 million Climate Action Fund is being established to encourage commercial investment in innovative climate change projects in the area of renewable energy projects, energy efficiency, district heating, electric charging networks and enhanced environmental protection;
Reducing Plastic Waste
Ireland has consistently exceeded the EU plastic recycling target of 22.5%, with the most up to date figures showing that we recycled 35.7% of plastics in 2016. However, we must do more. Fine Gael is committed to significantly increasing our plastic recycling rate to 55% by 2030. We also strongly support EU proposals to ban certain plastic products, in order to reduce the impact of certain single use plastics, and oblige producers to cover the costs of waste management and clean up. Due to the Single Market and the EU Packaging Directive, tackling plastic waste is best done at a European level, and Ireland is pushing hard to see action in this area this year.
In addition, Minister Richard Bruton has requested a study to examine the potential of a bottle deposit scheme.
Finally, I have spent the last number of weeks meeting with constituents informing them of how they can benefit from grants for better energy homes. If you want to see what is available, have a look below.