Over half a million rural homeowners and businesses could pay a high price for Ireland’s "one-size-fits-all" approach to climate policy, according to Liquid Gas Ireland (LGI).
The group, which represents the country’s LPG industry, said the government’s National Climate Action Plan envisions the majority of Ireland’s households undergoing retrofitting to install electric heat pumps, despite financial and infrastructural challenges and the availability of more affordable, lower-carbon alternatives.
“Over 500,000 Irish properties have no connection to the natural gas distribution network, two-thirds currently rely on oil boilers for heating and fuel,” LGI said.
“Connecting remote, less energy-efficient properties to the natural gas grid or installing new heat pump technology will prove prohibitively expensive.”
Brian Derham, Chair of Liquid Gas Ireland, said rural households and businesses are at risk of "having to shoulder significant up-front costs for an electric heat pump and retrofitting scheme that will only be workable in urban areas.”
Mr Derham said the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new annual air quality report, “highlights the urgent need for cleaner-burning fuel alternatives."
The report estimates there are 1,300 premature deaths in Ireland every year that can be attributed to air pollution.
"A switch to LPG and BioLPG would have an immediate, lasting impact on regional air quality in Ireland," Mr Derham said.
"LPG and BioLPG produce virtually no black carbon and very low levels of air and particulate pollutant emissions."
Following the annual air quality report, director of the EPA's office on environmental monitoring, Dr Ciara McMahon, said the country should look at the feasibility of banning “all smoky fuels.”
The WHO considers air pollution to be the single largest environmental health risk in Europe, with heart disease and stroke the most common resulting conditions.