March 27, 2023
Government must change tack with less than 2% of retrofits completed – Darren O’Rourke TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Climate Action, Darren O’Rourke TD, has commented on the latest retrofitting figures released today by the SEAI in their quarterly progress report. 

The Meath East TD said although the report showed that the number of retrofits being completed have increased, they also make it clear progress to date is wholly inadequate.

Teachta O’Rourke said: 

“Today we heard that 27,199 energy upgrades were completed in 2022 as part of the national retrofit plan.

“While any increase in the snail’s-pace at which the government has been operating is welcome, the headline increase obscures the real story however.

“Firstly, over 68% of these upgrades did not meet the standard of B2 BER or higher, which is the standard required to meet the 2030 targets set out in Ireland’s climate action plan. 

“The goal is to complete 500,000 B2 home energy upgrades by 2030. Yet if today’s numbers are anything to go by, it is clear that the government’s plans are leaving us way behind where we need to be.

“We know from last week’s report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that urgent and critical action is needed now.

“If we are to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all, the lacklustre progress indicated by today’s figures is a far cry from what is required to tackle the climate crisis.

“8,481 B2 upgrades are simply not good enough. Not only do we still have 64,473 to go if we are to meet our 2025 targets, but we would need to complete 75,000 B2-equivalent home upgrades per year between 2026 and 2030 to do so.

“While ambitious targets are achievable and indeed necessary, it does not seem as if the current policy is ambitious or efficient enough to deliver them. 8,481 equates to less than 2% of 500,000.

“The government’s plans not only lack the scale and ambition to meet our 2030 climate targets, but fail to address the urgent issue of energy poverty. 

“It’s not just the scale and pace of the plan that is the problem. This approach is also socially regressive, deeply inequitable and inadequately targeted and regulated.

“The poorest, coldest homes continue to face significant barriers in accessing the retrofitting scheme. Rather than being a top priority, they continue to be left out in the cold.

“Sinn Féin is not alone in our thinking. Recently we have heard from organisations such as the Climate Advisory Council, as well as Friends of the Earth, that the government’s national retrofit plan fails to incorporate those in greatest need and that a change in direction is necessary.

“Sinn Féin has presented a real alternative in our policy document A Fairer Retrofit Plan’.

“We commit to significantly increase the retrofitting budget, targeting the funding at the poorest, coldest and most carbon intensive homes.

“Our plan is to spend more where it matters. It is an ambitious costed proposal to move all households to a B2 BER insulation standard for a tiered, area-targeted, scheme aimed at low and middle-income households.

“We proposed a tiered plan targeting those most in need. 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 climate crisis and the cost-of-living 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.

“We need to prioritise those who need it most rather than those with the greatest means.

“Today’s figures are yet a further confirmation that on both these issues the government remains determined to continue kicking the can down the road.

“Yet the urgency of the challenges before us do not afford such a luxury. Sinn Féin is ready to provide the decisive leadership needed to move Ireland forward.”

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