Belfast Telegraph

Climate change action a 'moral necessity', says minister in charge of plan

The Government minister charged with overseeing Ireland's new plan to combat climate change has declared it a moral necessity.

More than 100 initiatives are proposed to reduce emissions, including cutting the speed limit on motorways from 120km/h to 110km/h and finding cleaner replacement fuel for Moneypoint power station.

Denis Naughten, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, said it was the first step in getting all of government to address the issue of greenhouse gases.

"As a country, we are playing catch-up on our obligations in relation to climate change ," he said.

"This obligation is as much an opportunity as an obligation. In any event, it is a moral necessity and a vital national interest."

The plan includes a considerable number of reviews over the next few years, such as one on the future of peat power plants and another setting out what subsidies are given for fossil fuels.

It has a goal for all new cars to be zero emission in 2030, that the Dart line can be extended to Balbriggan by 2022 and that HGV speed limits could be reduced to 80km/h.

It recommends 14 compressed natural gas refuelling stations be set up and a grant scheme for electric vehicles by 2020.

Retrofitting of homes is also an important factor in energy efficiency, with a special scheme to see 1,500 properties upgraded, while landlords will come under pressure next year to have minimum thermal standards.

G uidelines on wind energy are to be finalised next year while Government planners are also being asked to consider approaches to integrated policy that would reduce travel demand and encourage more walking, cycling and public transport and more efficient and cleaner transport.

The plan asks for analysis of suitable reservoirs for carbon storage, more support for biomass and a review of how farming can be improved.

Mr Naughten said: " On climate change, change is possible. Our role is to put the levers for change into peoples' hands.

"This is our work at home, while abroad we stand firm in our commitment to the Paris Agreement. Energy efficiency is central to this plan. This is because using less energy and using it more efficiently is the most cost-effective and accessible way to tackle climate change."

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