The Irish government has issued a call for €500 million ($584 million) of private and public investment in its newly-launched Climate Action Fund.
The fund is designed to support large-scale projects that would otherwise not be developed without this support from government, in areas including renewable energy, energy efficiency and low-carbon infrastructure.
It will channel funding to projects seeking financial support of at least €1 million.
The Climate Action Fund is one of four funds that form part of the government’s 2018-2027 National Development Plan, announced in February. It is expected the plan will see total public capital investment in infrastructure projects of about €116 billion.
The other funds are the €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, the €2 billion Urban Regeneration and Development Fund, and the €500 million Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund.
The Irish Government proposed that an initial €7.6 billion of public funds be invested in low-carbon projects between 2018 and 2027. It forecast that this will, in turn, unlock an additional €14.2 billion of private financing from ‘commercial semi-state bodies’.
Denis Naughten, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, said: “The opportunities are endless and I would encourage people to be creative and solution focussed. Projects could range from electrifying our bus fleet, to expanding electric vehicles’ charging infrastructure, or the development of district heating projects in our cities, to using farm and food waste as a source of renewable energy.
“Effective change is putting the levers for climate action into people’s hands and the Climate Action Fund provides an unprecedented opportunity for communities, organisations and individuals. It is a blank canvas,” Naughten said.
According to Ireland’s National Policy Position on Climate Action and Low-Carbon Development document, published in 2014, the pathway for transitioning to a low-carbon society to 2050 requires an 80% to 95% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions compared with 1990.
Stephen Nolan, chief executive of Sustainable Nation Ireland, told Environmental Finance the Climate Action Fund will aim to capitalise on growing momentum surrounding investments in sustainability, of which February’s National Development Plan was a symptom.
“There’s so much going on in Ireland around investing in this area, particularly among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This fund is another example of the Irish government crowding in private capital to grow sustainable investments, and it will be invaluable in helping these SMEs to scale,” Nolan said.
Sustainable Nation Ireland, whose programmes are partly financed by the Irish government and the EU’s Climate-KIC climate innovation initiative, has a mandate to stimulate investment and promote Ireland as a hub for sustainable investments, as part of the country’s International Financial Services (IFS) 2020 programme.
Michael Hurley, Environmental Finance