March 21, 2024
Another new report echoes Sinn Féin’s call to overhaul government’s regressive retrofitting scheme – Darren O’Rourke TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on  Climate Action and the Environment, Darren O’Rourke TD, has welcomed the publication of a new report by the Irish Green Green Building Council and Friends of the Earth, which echoes Sinn Féin’s long-standing criticisms and proposals for reform of the government’s retrofitting scheme. 

Commenting on “Bridging the Gap: Between Energy Poverty and Energy Renovation”, the Meath East TD said:

“This new research makes it plain that the government’s scheme is not fit for purpose. It joins a long list of evidence which affirms Sinn Féin’s position that the government’s plan is not only completely lacking in scale and ambition, but it also totally misses the mark when it comes to delivering fair and equitable outcomes. 

“Despite these calls, the Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Greens remain steadfast in their determination to continue to prioritise those with the most means over those in the most need.

“Today’s report makes a clear case yet again for Sinn Féin’s alternative proposals as part of our Fairer Retrofit Plan. Amongst its 34 recommendations, the report calls on the government to both increase the ambition and accessibility of their approach and also to execute much more targeted and innovative measures so that those most at risk of energy poverty can gain access to the scheme. 

“Many of these homes are locked out of the scheme because the upfront cost is simply too high. 

“At the launch today, the overwhelming consensus was the current funding stream urgently needed to change and be broadened. The most effective way to do this would be to adopt a coordinated approach which would operate on a level-by-level basis by tying the level of funding to the level of income a household has. In other words, the less you have the more you get. Efficiency gains would also be derived by retrofitting entire estates at the same time. 

“This thinking directly mirrors Sinn Féin’s proposals. 

“Directing scarce labour resources to the coldest homes is the best use of public money, is socially equitable and will show the best return on public investment in achieving climate targets.

“The report also recommends the broadening of civil society engagement and bottom up approaches, highlighting the fact that co-produced solutions are often far more effective at achieving stated aims. It furthermore recommends the establishment of local energy advisors to increase the efficiency and accessibility of retrofitting and solar PV. These were two key measures contained in Sinn Féin’s alternative budget for 2024 to combat energy poverty.

“Finally, the report also aligns with Sinn Féin’s belief that the government is not doing enough when it comes to retrofitting the social housing stock and that far more funding is needed. This is a key missed opportunity to meet our 2030 target in a way that is not only ambitious but that is also just. 

“The climate crisis and the cost-of-living crisis are two huge issues looming on the Irish political agenda.

“It is possible to address them both with a national retrofitting scheme. However, it must be both ambitious enough to meet the task at hand and furthermore, it has to work for all.

“The calls on government to change tack are getting louder and more numerous. Minister Eamon Ryan should heed those calls.” 

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