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Denis Naughten T.D. Minister for Communications, Climate Action & Environment Speech at Project Ireland 2040 - Empowering Communities for Climate Action Event

Denis Naughten T.D.

Minister for Communications, Climate Action & Environment

Project Ireland 2040

Empowering Communities for Climate Action 


Smock Alley Theatre

6-7 Exchange Street Lower, Temple Bar, Dublin 8

Wednesday, 20 June 2018, 9.00am​



  • Thank you, An Taoiseach, Ministers, Committee Chair, guests


  • We're here today to show that this Government means business when it comes to taking strong action on climate change.  I am very pleased to host today's event alongside so many of my Cabinet colleagues. This shows Government's commitments and demonstrates that climate change is truly a cross cutting issue, and that's why we are taking a whole of government approach towards tackling it.


  • There is no question that we are, as a country, playing catch-up on our obligations in relation to climate change.  Recent EPA figures show that Ireland's emissions trajectory is deeply disappointing. This is as much our opportunity as our obligation. In any event it is a moral necessity and a vital national interest.
  • Effective change is putting the levers for climate action into people's hands. Delivery requires fundamental transformation in our thinking and Project Ireland 2040 represents a significant step-change in our approach, both in terms of scale of our ambition and the funding that we're making available as a Government to meet the challenges.


  • This government has been criticised for the lack of ambition on climate change for its failure to meet the 2020 targets.


Project Ireland 2040

  • Project Ireland 2040 provides that ambition. Practical, implementable, ambition that we can all work together to achieve; from the most isolated rural home on the Beara peninsula in West Cork, to the tech giants in the Silicon Docks.


  • Over the next decade Project Ireland 2040 sets out a €22,000m climate focused investment plan.


  • That's €1:€5 that will be spent by the State & State Companies over the next decade. This is not just significant in European terms but significant in global terms.


  • In the coming weeks we will commence a nationwide ban on the sale of smoky coal, becoming the first country in Europe to do so.


  • And we expect that based on the €4,000m investment in energy efficiency upgrades of buildings that within the next 200 months dirty fossil fuels will be taken out of our heating systems including homes - and that will be an achievement of global significance based on the fact that 37% of our population live in rural areas.
  • We will have dirty fossil fuels out of electricity generation by 2030, at the latest, and we are banning the sale of new cars with tail pipes by 2030.
  • On top of all of this investment, bringing high speed broadband to every home and business in Ireland will reduce travel journeys in rural Ireland; not just to work, but for education, for medical appointments and to access government services.
  • Over the next decade we will produce 55% of our electricity from renewable sources, which will be a phenomenal feat, in light of the fact that we have an isolated electricity grid.
  • In fact we are the global leader today in electricity grid management of renewable energy. And we want to become the global leader in food waste management.
  • The €500m Climate Action fund is the biggest per capita fund of its type in the world, and we are already receiving international interest in this fund.
  • Let me mention some of the innovative schemes that we have already established:
    • In terms of the Beef Data & Genomics scheme, geno-typing and getting the genetic make-up of 1million beef animals has never been done anywhere in our planet to date.
    • The Warmth & Well-Being pilot scheme here in this city, which is looking at health outcomes on foot of doing deep retrofit of homes. There is international interest in the outcomes of that, which we are going to publish later this year.
    • And the Smart Farming initiative, to reduce farm emissions by 10% while increasing profitability for farmers.
  • These are all of European if not global significance
  • Our Smart grid, our DS3 project is at the cutting edge of technology in relation to electricity management. And our state funded Tidal research has led to the first purpose built, tidal turbine manufacturing facility opened in Cherbourg last Thursday, supporting jobs in Grenore, Co Louth.

  • But the big difference between the promises and commitments that have been made in the past and what we are doing here today is that we are backing up those commitments with cash.
  • 1 in €5 of government capital spending over the next decade is going into this area.
  • With the smartest grid in the world and with every home with high speed broadband and an open access Climate Action Fund, we have the opportunity to become THE global climate innovation hub. 

Climate Action Fund

  • The €500 million Climate Action Fund will be open for applications in the coming weeks. That is a blank canvas. A black canvas for anyone here in Ireland to come forward with innovative ideas that will help to meet our climate and energy targets.
  • A blank canvas for anyone with a global interest to come here to Ireland and try out an initiative that will have a direct impact on our overall emissions.
  • It can support projects ranging from wave energy off our west coast, to electrifying our bus fleet, to heating our homes and businesses using farm and food waste.
  • That opportunity is there for small rural communities and for big global businesses.
  • This fund is a new way of thinking. It's a new way of problem solving in communities on the issue of climate and on our environment. I believe this fund will stimulate innovative ideas and deliver concrete projects that will contribute towards our 2030 targets and our long term 2050 national ambition.



  • Government expenditure alone is neither affordable nor sufficient to meet the scale of the climate challenge ahead. We need to target that balance between Government expenditure and private expenditure, taxation, regulation and behavioural change.
  • We are looking at climate focussed taxation and regulatory measures to encourage more sustainable behaviours.


    National Dialogue on Climate Action
  • We will commence the National Dialogue on Climate Action in Athlone this weekend.
  • That's about bringing individuals and communities with us right across the country.
  • Because Government alone cannot deal with the scale of the challenge that we have here in Ireland or that we have internationally.
  • We are kicking off the regional meetings in Athlone on Saturday because that is the centre point of the communities that have seen the greatest impact in relation to climate change in terms of flooding.
  • Communities across this country have seen at first hand the impact of climate change here in Ireland. And what we want to do is work with communities, work with individuals, small rural communities, and with towns and villages across this country. Working with the Climate Action Regional offices that I established earlier this year, to come forward with constructive innovative solutions, to get people to buy in to the overall framework that we are now driving in this country, that we are working with our European colleagues on and that we are working on internationally.
  • I think we have an opportunity now to move from being seen as the laggards in Europe in relation to climate action to becoming not just the European leaders but global leaders in some of the areas where we have built up our expertise.
  •  Go raibh mile maith agat. Thank you.



Speech Documents