September 25, 2023
Government to miss retrofitting target due to inequitable and inaccessible scheme – Darren O’Rourke TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Climate Action and the Environment, Darren O’Rourke TD, has called on the government to urgently reform their regressive retrofitting programme, arguing that without a major overhaul, Ireland will not meet its 2030 targets. 
 
Commenting on the newly published report by the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI), the Meath East TD said:
 
“The report by the BPFI confirms what Sinn Féin has been saying for some time now – the government’s retrofitting plan is not working. It needs a major overhaul if we have any hope of meeting the 2030 target of 500,000 homes to BER B2 standard or higher. 
 
“Of those surveyed as part of the report, cost was identified as the major barrier. As a result, the BPFI confirmed that more support is needed in order to address the cited ‘affordability gap’ in the government’s retrofitting programme. 
 
“This ‘affordability gap’ is most pronounced for the poorest, coldest homes. Whereas the government seems content to leave these ordinary workers and families out in the cold, Sinn Féin’s retrofitting plan aims to address this deep inequity.
 
“After all, retrofitting is not just about cutting carbon emissions; it represents an important way to cut the cost of energy bills, as was confirmed by today’s report, with over 80% of those over 45 stating that it was a key reason motivating them to retrofit their homes.
 
“Despite 1 in 3 people living in energy poverty in Ireland, the government’s retrofitting plan prioritises those with the greatest means over those in the greatest need and excludes a huge cohort of households; those who don’t qualify due to high costs and those who don’t qualify due to strict eligibility criteria.
 
“A wealthy household can access €25,000 of taxpayer-funded grants for a deep retrofit, while many with far greater need cannot access basic measures such as attic or wall insulation. 
 
“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 with a tiered, area-targeted, scheme aimed at low and middle income households.
 
“We propose 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.
 
“We would also increase the budget for local authority retrofits. The area-based approach of our schemes would see local authority homes, tenant-purchased homes and other private dwellings retrofitted simultaneously, helping to reduce wait times, labour intensity and deliver cost savings.
 
“Rather than targeting solid fuel homes with punitive action like carbon tax hikes and turf bans, Sinn Féin has an alternative plan to assist them with retrofitting their homes, which will particularly benefit those in rural areas.
 
“Finally, we believe Ireland has the potential to have a revolution in solar energy which can greatly benefit ordinary workers and families, but only if sufficient resources are dedicated to it.
 
“Sinn Féin’s plan would both cut our carbon emissions and reduce energy poverty and inequality in our society. We would deliver a fair and realistic retrofitting scheme, making a real difference to ordinary people’s lives and to the planet. Unlike the government, we plan to deliver more than lofty targets and fluffy rhetoric.
 
“The BPFI report proves once again that the calls on the Government to change tack are getting louder and more numerous. Minister Eamon Ryan should heed those calls.”

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