March 15, 2023
Report echoes Sinn Féin’s call for retrofit plan overhaul – Darren O’Rourke TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Climate Action, Darren O’Rourke TD, has welcomed today’s ‘Still Left Out in the Cold’ report by Friends of the Earth.

The Meath East TD said the report “exposes the glaring inadequacy of the Government’s energy policies” and “echoes a need for a fundamental overhaul of the national retrofit plan”.

Teachta O’Rourke said:

“The Government’s plan is lacking in scale and ambition.

“It fails to come close to addressing the urgent issue of energy poverty, which is at its highest level ever recorded, occurring in a context of rising polluting emissions in Ireland and of high household reliance on fossil fuels.

“Today’s report from Friends of the Earth Ireland is welcome.”It puts forward 49 recommendations to address rising energy poverty and to increase energy efficiency in Irish homes, many of which both echo the views of the Climate Change Advisory Council and furthermore align with existing Sinn Féin policies, for example our ‘A Fairer Retrofit Plan’ launched last year.

“The report stressed that there are significant barriers for low income households to access the retrofitting scheme either due to high cost or lack of eligibility.

“Rather than being a top priority that the report recommends, the less well-off are currently left out in the cold from the current government scheme.

“Similarly, the report also found that tenants renting from private landlords are at most risk of energy poverty; these properties are more likely to be older, lower energy buildings. Sinn Féin has been critical of government silence on renters, arguing that they have been left behind.

“Importantly, it highlights the fact that a combination of high energy costs, inadequate incomes and inefficient housing are the key driving factors for households falling into energy poverty, reinforcing the point that the Government’s current plans fail to incorporate those in greatest need.

“Instead, what we have is a socially regressive, deeply inequitable approach that is both inefficient and inadequately targeted and regulated.

“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.

“In addition, we’ve also called on the government to accelerate shallow retrofits to help cut carbon emissions, as figures from the SEAI show the number of attics and cavity walls insulated in 2022 was 88% lower than the number completed in 2011.

“The insulation of roof space and cavity walls has fallen off over a cliff over the past decade despite being a simple, quick measure that can immediately help reduce heat loss from a home, cut household energy bills and reduce carbon emissions.

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

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