Alex calls for increased investment in energy efficiency, renewables and clean transport


Speaking at the launch of the 2016 Better Energy Communities grant scheme, which will distribute €20 million to community-based energy efficiency projects this year, I outlined that better-than-expected public finances will allow the Government to review its capital plan earlier than the proposed 2017. Large-scale capital investment is essential in energy efficiency, renewable energy and green transport.

Last month, I published my Energy White Paper, which identifies actions to reduce Ireland’s energy-related carbon emissions by between 80% and 95% by 2050. Ireland will eventually have to generate 100% of its energy needs from clean sources.

We need, as a country, to recommit ourselves to a scale of investment necessary to make our low-carbon ambition a reality. The Government’s capital spending plan, published last September, demonstrates that we are alive to the challenge. But, while significant, it will not be enough to address the entire range of medium to long-term social, economic and environmental priorities that require substantial investment. I very much agree with my colleague Brendan Howlin, when he said that our better-than-expected public finances will allow us to review the capital plan earlier than 2017.

I am part of a political tradition that champions long-term capital investment as a core element of public policy: One that needs to be valued – as much as current spending and tax breaks – by politicians, businesses, commentators and citizens. If we are returned as part of the next coalition Government, Labour will prioritise capital investment in a broad range of areas. This will include Better Energy Communities and other programmes that will help us meet the challenge of global warming, which requires large-scale investment in energy efficiency, renewables, and green transport.