Less money should be spent on healthcare and pensions to pay for new green energy systems, former Taoiseach John Bruton has suggested.
In an article published on his website, Mr Bruton said Governments around the world “will need to divert money away from current spending eg. consumer goods, healthcare, pensions” in order to spend more on green infrastructure.
He also said people “underestimate” how much it will all cost.
“We’re going to have to spend a lot on capital investment in new forms of energy generation that do not involve climate change,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.
“We’re going to have to replace all the existing systems that are reliant on fossil fuels with ones that are not reliant.
“We’re also going to have to dig up a lot of minerals that are going to be needed for renewable energy.
“For example, a battery that is essential for renewable energy storage requires 8kg of lithium, 35kg of nickel, 20kg of manganese, a lot of cobalt and so forth.
“All of that is currently in the ground somewhere - in Africa or China - and it’s going to have to be dug up and perhaps even opencast mines are going to have to be put in place so that we can get that for the batteries.”
This, he predicted, would upset many environmentalists who are passionate about reaching net zero.
“The sort of people who object to a mine are very often the people who are concerned about climate change,” he said.
“So, that means we have to engage in a major programme of public education.”
He urged politicians to be “open and frank that there is a price to pay” for net zero but that it is necessary in the long-term.
“I think that sort of politics is going to have to change,” he said.
“I think we’re going to have to think not in terms of what we’re going to enjoy ourselves in our own lifetimes - short or long as it may be - but instead focus on what sort of life our children and grandchildren are going to live.
“That requires medium to long-term investment.”
The Irish Government is aiming for 80% of the country’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030 and to reach net zero by 2050.
Main image: Wind turbines in Wexford. Picture by: Alamy.com