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Bruton: State will not be able to fund all measures to reduce carbon emissions

The State will not be able to fund all of the measures that are required to bring down carbon emissions, Climate Action Minister Richard Burton has told the Dáil.

The Government has been put under pressure to pump more money into renewable energy, retrofitting of homes and other green measures.

Green party leader, Eamon Ryan, has also called for a ban on further oil and gas exploration of our coast and says funding should invest in wind energy instead.

Labour leader, Brendan Howlin, said that all public buildings should be retrofitted as a priority followed by all local authority housing.

However, Mr Bruton told the Dáil that people must recognise that there will not be Government funding for all the changes that we need to make: "If that were the case, the bill for the State would be enormous. We have to find ways of supporting, motivating and giving people incentives and access to smart finance to allow these changes to occur."

Mr Bruton, who is due to publish a Government climate action plan shortly, also ruled out a ban on oil and gas exploration in the short-term: "Let us be absolutely honest with people.

Preventing new domestic sources of gas being found will not reduce our greenhouse emissions by one gramme. That is the reality. All it will do is that it will change our dependence on domestic sourced gas to dependence on overseas gas or oil.

Mr Bruton said reducing exploration would only result in paying higher oil prices to "sheikhs in Saudi Arabia or oligarchs in Russia".

But Mr Ryan said the current Government is "fixated on still looking for oil and gas" when we have a massive potential for increasing offshore wind energy.

"We have some of the strongest winds in the world and the technology is now there to collect and export it over a distance," he said.

Mr Howlin echoed Mr Ryan and said the right combination of public and private investment can ensure that we meet the ambitious targets of 70% of renewables in electricity by 2030: "As an immediate first step, all local authorities should be required to measure accurately and report annually on their carbon footprints, from the buildings they occupy, their housing stock, their vehicles and all their activities.

Local authorities should set ambitious targets so that they can experiment, be incentivised to try out new technologies, learn best practice and look at best international practice.

"We should be aiming at retrofitting 100,000 homes annually. That will be hugely ambitious but if we have the will, it can be achieved," he added.