The Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC) has called for swift action to support people and communities this winter by addressing Ireland’s dependence on fossil fuels.

Supporting communities by protecting particularly those in receipt of the winter fuel allowance and those living in the worst performing buildings is vital, ahead of what will be “one of the most challenging winters in a generation,” the council said.

The CCAC called for home energy upgrades such as the installation of attic insulation; draught proofing; regular servicing of boilers; installation of heating controls; and simplifying the paperwork to access grants.

Fossil fuel dependence is one of the causes of high energy costs, supply instability and high levels of carbon dioxide emissions, according to the CCAC, which siad:

“The transition to more affordable, clean and secure energy must be urgently progressed and focus on measures that can be immediately deployed to assist those most in need in the coming months and in the years ahead.”

The energy crisis must be addressed in both the short and the long term, particularly considering the development of renewable sources, the council, which recently published its annual review for 2022, said.

Onshore wind and solar renewable electricity targets should be significantly increased, the CCAC said, stressing that national and local political and policy support is needed for the rapid delivery of renewable resources.

“Offshore wind will play a critical role in the low carbon transition, and it is imperative that steps for planning and consenting, as well as developing the grid, progress at pace,” the CCAC said.

The focus on reducing the use of fossil fuels must be maintained, while accelerating the delivery of indigenous renewable resources can secure Ireland’s long-term energy future, protect against cost volatility while also supporting climate change objectives, CCAC chair, Marie Donnelly said.

Climate change

Following the recently announced sectoral emissions reduction targets, the CCAC said the upcoming Climate Action Plan must set out a clear pathway for all sectors and identify measures to help achieve Ireland’s climate change ambitions.

The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC) recently confirmed that the Climate Action Plan 2023 will set out the policies, measures and actions required to achieve a 51% reduction in overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030.

The new Climate Action Plan is due to be published by the end of this year, and will implement the carbon budgets and the sectoral emissions ceilings, according to the DECC.

“Recent extreme weather events across the globe including droughts and floods show that the impacts of climate change are immediate and require urgent action in respect of mitigation and adaptation.

“While government investment must increase with unambiguous and targeted plans in place, business, civic and community organisations can and must play a pivotal role in supporting people to overcome the current energy crisis, and in helping Ireland to deliver on its climate obligations,” Donnelly said.