Published on 

Speech by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD, Announcement of First Round of Funding for the Climate Action Fund

Check against delivery

Ministers, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

Earlier this year, in February, we launched Project Ireland 2040, our ambitious plan for the future of our country.

Today we meet to announce the first round of funding under the €500 million Climate Action Fund.

The third of four funds which are game-changers in the way we do things when it comes to capital investment and infrastructure spending in Ireland.

This is the third funding announcement. Last Friday I was in Sligo to announce the first round of funding under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund. On Monday we announced the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund and we will shortly make a similar announcement about the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Funds.

The best way of preparing for the future is by investing in it now.

Project Ireland 2040

Over the next twenty years, the population of Ireland is expected to grow by 1 million people. We want to ensure that this growth is balanced, that all parts of the country share in the nation’s prosperity, and that we do it in a sustainable and climate friendly way.

Project Ireland 2040 is our way to achieve that. It is a plan like no other. Because it represents a radically different approach to planning for our future.

Project Ireland 2040 consists of a national spatial plan that is backed up with real money. The money follows the plan.

It provides for massive increases in investment in our public infrastructure – housing, transport, broadband, education and healthcare.

An investment of €116 billion over ten years to remove bottlenecks, modernize our public services, reduce congestion, and ensure that economic development is brought to all parts of our country, and ensure that we have the capacity for future growth.

I know people hearing politicians talking about 10 year plans and 2040 can be sceptical. It sounds like the ‘long finger’ talking. But that’s not the case. Project Ireland 2040 is already being implemented. Next year alone there will be a 25% increase in infrastructure spending and you can already see the results all over the country:

• New schools;
• New primary care centres;
• New Housing;
• Road improvements; and
• Cultural and sporting facilities.

So, what are our objectives? They are a shared set of goals which will deliver benefits to communities across the country:

• compact growth in our villages, towns and cities. No more sprawl;
• better accessibility to all parts of the country;
• a strong economy;
• a transition to sustainable energy;
• strong rural communities – 200,000 more people living in rural Ireland by 2040;
• access to quality childcare, education and health services; and,
• enhanced amenities and heritage.

Four Funds

Building for this future – building the communities of the future -requires input from our communities today.

Government does not have all the answers. It never will. And it should never think it does. Government works for the people – and it is people who should always drive its objectives.

So we are looking to you - local authorities, businesses, academics, researchers and community groups - to work with us as we find new answers and new ways of doing things.

In May, with my Ministerial colleagues, I launched four game-changing funds - a total investment of €4 billion. Together they represent a new and innovative approach to investment and capital spending in Ireland.

The €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund will enable towns, villages and rural areas to grow sustainably. It’s all about making Rural Ireland a more attractive place to stay if you’re from rural Ireland, move into if you’re not, or set up and run a business.

The €2 billion Urban Regeneration and Development Fund aims to achieve sustainable growth in Ireland’s cities and large urban centres, incentivising collaborative approaches to development by public and private sectors. Unleashing the potential of brownfield sites for city living rather than more suburban sprawl. Growing up not out.

The €500 million Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund will drive collaboration between the research, education and enterprise sectors, and will help create the jobs and wealth of the future.

The €500 million Climate Action Fund - the reason we are here today - will focus on innovative projects with a strong focus on emission reduction interventions in the transport sector. Using technological advancements to combat climate change.

One of the more revolutionary aspects of these Funds is that they are competitive and open to a wide variety of partners. Bottom-up rather than top-down. If you have an idea to improve your area, develop new technologies, encourage climate action, you have the opportunity to make a real difference.

These are targeted, strategic investments in projects that will help to build a better Ireland.

Climate Action

Project Ireland 2040 provides for an unprecedented investment of €22 billion in climate action over the next decade; the largest single package within the Plan.

Our commitment and determination to climate action is evident. We are working to take peat and coal off the grid by the middle of the next decade and to have 500,000 electric vehicles on our roads by 2030. This change will take time but we are seeing results: already the number of LEVs registered this year is almost double that of 2017. From next July, no new diesel-only buses will be bought by Bus Eireann or Dublin Bus.

From 2030, no new diesel or petrol cars will be sold in Ireland.

We are also investing in forestry and beef genomics to reduce emissions from agriculture.

We are investing in renewable energy and also deep retrofitting of public buildings and homes. Last year, the Government provided €22 million towards energy upgrades for close to 2,500 residential, community and business buildings around the country.

We know that the challenge presented by climate change requires more than investment. The transition to a low carbon world will require profound changes in how we live our lives. And that will only be possible with the buy-in of communities and individuals.

So we want the Climate Action Fund to empower communities, industry, researchers, the public sector, and citizens to take ownership of climate action efforts.

Today we announce the first round of funding under the fund. And I have been struck by the dynamism of the ideas that were submitted.

Applications covered areas such as:

• renewable energy,
• district heating; and
• local infrastructure development including for electric vehicles.

More funding rounds will follow, and there are many other projects we want to see developed further.


The projects being announced today have the potential to make a real difference in the area of climate action.

They will also hit the ground running.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who applied to this, and to all four Funds.

Project Ireland 2040 is our plan.

Today shows how we will work together to achieve it.

It’s just a taste of what’s to come.

So thank you.