I welcome this debate on climate change, which is coming at an appropriate time as thousands of young people in Ireland will mobilise tomorrow in order to raise awareness and demand climate action. The influence young people are having on this debate, in building momentum among older generations to take seriously the scale of the challenge, cannot be underestimated. They are a constant reminder to those in power that governments must lead this change. There has been a lack of commitment in the past in Ireland. Although we committed to a 20% reduction in emissions, we have failed to achieve that target. It is absolutely appropriate that we be called out on that failure. Younger generations are pointing the finger at our generation and telling us that we will be the first generation to pass the world on in a worse state than in which we found it, and that is a heavy responsibility which we need to seriously address.
This debate is also appropriate in that the UN will be hosting a series of events relating to the climate agenda this weekend. The first of those will be a youth engagement and public mobilisation session on Saturday, at which Ireland will be a listener, and where young people will have the opportunity to set out their concerns and expectations in great detail. This allows a serious debate to occur not only at a local level within our communities but at an international level, so that the UN, which is at the heart of multilateral efforts to work together to confront the climate challenge, will hear directly from young people as to their expectations. On Monday, the UN Secretary General will hold a climate action summit. As Deputies will know, this has long been signalled as a time when we need to step up our ambitions, as many new scientific reports note the narrowing window of opportunity for action and the need to significantly scale up our ambitions. Ireland is part of a coalition within the European Union which wants to commit to net zero carbon emissions for the European Union by 2050. I welcome the very high-level expression of commitment from the new President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, with whom I have worked in the past. I have absolute conviction that when she sets out her agenda for the Commission's work, at the core of which will be climate action and just transition, she will deliver on that ambition.
For Ireland, this UN conference will be the first opportunity for me to present the strategic approach Ireland has taken in addressing the shortfalls that have clearly occurred in our own climate strategy. We have much to tell people in that the way we have gone about this shows we have the capacity to mobilise the necessary change. The Citizens' Assembly has provided leadership on this issue and clearly pointed the way forward, as it has done when addressing previous major changes in Irish society as well. The all-party Oireachtas committee put huge care and effort into conducting hearings around the scale of the challenge, how we shape that challenge, and how to govern in order to ensure policies for delivering targets are implemented. The work of that committee, which was chaired by my colleague Deputy Hildegarde Naughton and involved every party and Deputies of no affiliation, was a remarkable piece of work, and it culminated in a unanimous declaration here in the Chamber of a climate and biodiversity emergency. That is a significant foundation on which to build a climate plan, and that is what I have sought to do.
As Deputies know, shortly after that declaration I published the Government's climate action plan, which adopts the approach outlined by the Oireachtas committee. We are moving to a whole new approach to governance, with climate budgets and independent recommendations to the Government of what those budgets should be coming from a much-strengthened climate action council. There will be far greater levels of accountability for individual Ministers on the delivery on climate budgets within their sectors, and far greater accountability to the Oireachtas here as well. Just as Departments are accountable to the Committee of Public Accounts, they will in future be accountable to an equally important - if not more important - climate action committee.
The plan we have set out is ambitious. Some people will say it is not ambitious enough, while others will say it is too ambitious. To give Deputies some notion of the scale of the plan, it is important to outline some of the things we envisage happening, because they represent both change and opportunity. For example, the amount of renewable energy on our grid will increase to five times what it is today.
The level of retrofitting activity on our homes will be ten times what it is today. The number of electric vehicles will increase from 4% of purchasers today to 100% by 2030. The number of heat pumps that are installed will be 20 times what it is today. The number of trees planted will be double what it is today, representing 250 million additional trees planted over the next decade. The number of people commuting and travelling by public transport or cycling will be 500,000 more per day. The amount of non-recyclable plastic will go from 66% today to zero by 2030. The number of sustainable energy communities will rise to 1,500, which is five times what it is today.
This is a very ambitious plan in many ways but it is absolutely essential. I am very conscious, however, that this requires big changes in the way we think about many things. People will have to change their concept of what types of infrastructure should be part of a society that is committed to decarbonisation. We will have to change the habits of a lifetime in many ways. We will have to accommodate 1 million extra people in this country but do it in such a way that is compact, sustainable and connected. We will have to mobilise very large amounts of private capital to deliver this. I believe it is a serious test of politics.
The plan is built on four very simple principles. One is the essential nature of Government leadership. This means the Government taking responsibility for living within strict carbon budgets, driving the changes that are necessary in our society, being open and accountable for that and ensuring that every public body adopts a mandate for climate action.
The second principle is effective policies. We have to pursue policies that impose the least burden but the most opportunity to Irish people, while delivering the essential targets we have to achieve. It is very important that our homes, enterprises and farms can be resilient and sustainable and will prosper in a changed world. This requires significant change.
Also embedded is the principle of fairness and recognising that we need to support those who are most exposed to change. We have seen this in very sharp terms with regard to Bord na Móna workers. We also need to support those least equipped to manage those changes, especially those who might be at risk of fuel poverty. We have to make sure that every element of society is making a fair contribution. This is what we call just transition and it has to be at the heart of the plan.
The final principle on which the plan is built is one of citizens' empowerment. This means that engagement and feedback, especially with the younger generation, are embedded in the plan. We need to find novel ways to help people shape their own communities and also empower communities and individuals to change the way they address this issue.
These four principles are entirely interlocked. We have to achieve in all areas together. It is a challenge to the way we do politics and public administration and a test of our structures. I am looking forward to working with colleagues in the Oireachtas to make a reality for our people the work that the all-party Oireachtas committee took on and which we have embedded in the climate action plan.