Senator Aisling Dolan called for a more ‘Just Transition’ when it comes to energy usage especially in the West.
The Fine Gael Senator for Roscommon-Galway Aisling Dolan stated
“We need consideration of a Just Transition over a period of years to reduce the impact of higher energy costs for families in the West and that all communities can work towards a climate neutral economy in a fair way.
“The whole concept of a Just Transition is to allow a transition towards a climate-neutral economy which happens in a fair way, leaving no one behind. The European Union under JTM (Just Transition Mechanism) provides targeted support to help mobilise around €55 billion over the period 2021-2027 in the most affected regions, to alleviate the socio-economic impact of the transition.
“The West is a region with an older population which is heavily dependant in certain areas on turf to heat their homes.
“I attended a public meeting recently organised by Castlerea Town Team to promote home energy upgrades and support families reducing energy costs and insulating their homes. There was a large attendance and such interest in this programme to help us all tackle climate change.”
“However the reality is that there is a 2 year wait-time for the Warmer Homes Scheme – that is for people who are most at risk of energy poverty who may depend on a neighbour cutting the turf and where there is no other choice to receive government support to insulate their homes. So many families who would have done the work themselves are now in their 80s or 90s and not physically able to do this manual work.
“The One Stop Shop with SEAI (Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland) has only recently launched so people who wish to apply for a Home Energy Upgrade or to benefit from supports for wall & attic insulation still don’t know the waiting times and we are dealing with high labour shortages in this area.
Minister Simon Harris has launched four retro-fitting centres of excellence across the country to train people. Again it will take time to ramp up the skills required within retro-fitting to meet ambitious housing targets.
“I’ve spoken on a number of occasions in the Seanad and to the Tánaiste on concerns in the West of Ireland about the potential unfair impact of additional measures this year. We have to look at the wider European policies around Just Transition until 2027. We know that Bord na Mona have stopped the industrial harvesting of milled peat and this has already had a major impact.
“According to the Western Development Commission we also have an older housing stock in the West so homes need more energy to stay warm.
“As a region that has high usage of turf to keep homes warm, highly impacted by the closure of Bord na Móna plants with the loss of jobs, the amount of older housing stock – we need a more Just Transition so our communities can also achieve a climate neutral economy and that the social and economic impacts are shared in a fair way.”