I propose to take Questions Nos. 47 and 60 together.
My Department has worked closely with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in framing the National Development Plan, and will oversee a significant programme of capital investment during the 10 year period of the Plan.
Climate mitigation and adaptation are cross-cutting priorities for Government and for me. Public and private sector investment choices over the coming decade will play a critical role in ensuring that Ireland is on a sustainable trajectory towards securing the national objective of a competitive, low-carbon, climate-resilient and environmentally sustainable economy and society by 2050.
Building on the approach set out in the Government’s National Mitigation Plan, the National Development Plan includes a strong focus on strategic investments in the areas of transport, agriculture, energy and the built environment to address the significant climate change challenges we face. Action now to decarbonise these sectors will position Ireland to harness a range of benefits into the future, in terms of the creation of sustainable green jobs, sustainable food production, deepening our energy security, improving the quality of our lives and making our working and built environments healthier.
In my Department, a significant expansion of investment in energy efficiency upgrades, including deep retrofitting of housing, commercial and public building stock, will accelerate the contribution of the built environment to the collective effort to reduce CO2 emissions. Measures to progressively decarbonise electricity generation and to promote the electrification of heat and transport will be central to the achievement of national transition objectives. Investment in renewable energy technologies must be complemented by the development of appropriate levels of energy interconnection to cater for growing demand and to diversify our sources of supply.
Delivery of the new high speed broadband network under the National Broadband Plan will ensure that the opportunities presented by the digital transformation are available to every community in Ireland. Fast, secure, high capacity digital connectivity will underpin balanced regional development, allow new businesses and services to emerge and increase Ireland’s competitiveness and attractiveness as a place to live and do business. In a similar way, An Post, in its strategic plan, is embracing the opportunities presented by the digital agenda and harnessing its existing strengths such as its nationwide reach, trusted brand and the relationship with communities to develop new products and services. Further opportunities will be available to the post office network, as the step change in digital connectivity is extended across the country to villages and rural areas.
During the lifetime of the National Development Plan, capacity will continue to be built in sustainable waste management and resource efficiency, including recycling, waste to energy, landfill and landfill remediation. Such investments, along with support measures to prevent food waste, will be critical to environmental and economic well-being for a growing population, and to achieving EU circular economy and climate objectives.