Some short-term relief but not yet the energy revolution we need

Friends of the Earth has welcomed some of the short-term measures in Budget 2023 but said the overall package still lacks the scale and urgency to drive the energy revolution we need to get off unreliable, skyrocketing fossil fuels for good.

Commenting, Friends of the Earth Chief Executive, Oisín Coghlan said:

Fuel allowance and retrofitting

“This Budget offers people some short term relief from skyrocketing fossil fuel prices but it doesn’t go far enough or fast enough to get us off fossil fuels for good.

“The expansion of the fuel allowance and the €400 lump sum are welcome but why are people on Working Family Payment excluded and why is there no increase in the basic weekly rate?

“And of course, while the Fuel Allowance is an essential sticking plaster the real solution is more insulation and retrofitting so people have warmer homes and lower bills with less pollution.

“The extra money for retrofitting next year is welcome but the target of 37,000 houses is far too low. This is an emergency. We should be insulating 100,000 houses before next winter. And the Government should be telling the SEAI to sit down with the likes of the SVP and Age Action to make sure we reach those most in need. A first-come, first-served grant scheme isn’t good enough.

Transport, cycling and schools

“The continuation of the 20% fare reductions for public transport for 2023 is positive but it should be permanent. It can be a game-changer. 

“More money for school transport is welcome, but we need a guaranteed school bus place for every child who lives more than 3km from school.

“The €360 million a year for cycling and walking infrastructure good but local authorities have been failing to spend it. We need central government action to drive this transformation. Let’s start with safe cycling and walking routes to all schools by next September.

“One straightforwardly good move is the money to put solar panels on the roofs of every school in Ireland. Friends of the Earth has been campaigning on this for years. It will cut schools energy bills, they can sell the electricity they don’t use to the grid and it will involve communities up and down the country in the positive energy revolution we need.

Friends of the Earth’s initial analysis of the Budget measures also found:

  • The Budget is a missed opportunity to accelerate the transition to renewable heating through measures such as removing VAT on Heat Pumps or insulation materials.
  • Although positive to see tax credit for renters, there is no clear energy efficiency funding allocated for the private rental sector.
  • An increase of the Increase for Qualified Child (IQC) of €2 is not enough to help children in poverty. Friends of the Earth called for an increase of €7 for under 12s and €12 for over 12s.

Jerry Mac Evilly, Head of Policy at Friends of the Earth commented:

“What is driving both the cost of living crisis and the climate crisis is our fossil fuel addiction. The answer to both of these challenges is the same: long-term measures and investment is needed to end Ireland’s fossil fuels reliance.

“The next opportunity the Government has to show that they are serious about rising to this challenge is the Climate Action Plan 2023 due in early November. This will be the first climate plan since the Oireachtas adopted binding national emissions ceilings for 2021-2025 and 2026-2030 and the Government decided on the controversial sectoral ceilings in July.”

  1. The full list of Friends of the Earth’s recommendations is available in the following joint letter signed by 42 organisations: https://www.foe.ie/assets/files/pdf/joint_letter_on_energy_poverty_and_energy_pollution.pdf.

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