The commitment will form part of the new climate action plan that is being overseen by Minister for Communications, Climate Action, and the Environment Richard Bruton.

Mr Bruton said there would be little point in moving towards electric vehicles if the source of that energy was not clean.

He also said that Government would have to work with people to persuade them that wind farms, including offshore projects, were the right thing for their communities.

“There is no doubt that if we want to decarbonise our economy we are going to have to change things,” Mr Bruton said.

The Government believes this move will require major investment and the costs will be greater than those that exist currently.

“We are not going to be able to deliver renewable sources of power at nil cost,” Mr Bruton added.

He said, however, that while fossil fuels were a cheap source of energy they were causing catastrophic damage to the environment.

However, the government’s decision to block a Climate Emergency Bill that seeks to end fossil fuel exploration in Ireland has been described as  a “sabotage of the democratic will of the Dáil” by People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett.

His colleague, Bríd Smith, said their climate bill was being “held hostage” by Fine Gael – even though it had been supported by a majority in the Dáil in February 2018.

The party says its bill is currently before the Oireachtas Communications, Climate Action and Environment Committee, where Fine Gael TDs and Senators are preventing it from proceding to the next legislative stage – something Ms Smith described as “total hypocrisy”.

People Before Profit are to bring a motion to the Dáil this week to try and ensure that their bill can move on to committee stage.

Meanwhile, Solidarity TD Paul Murphy has warned there will be “substantial protest and opposition” if the Government proceeds with its plans to introduce a carbon tax.

He said the public simply “didn’t trust the Government” on the environment – claiming the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, “pretends to care” but was “exactly the same as Enda Kenny.”

A carbon tax is expected to form part of a substantial climate report being finalised by the Oireachtas Communications, Climate Action and Environment Committee which will consider final amendments tomorrow and Wednesday – ahead of its publication by the end of the week.

Ms Smith, who sits on the committee, said it was “more than likely” there would be a minority report, because essential measures to tackle climate change were being “watered-down” by the Government. 

Mr Boyd Barrett said the school protests on climate were calling for “system change, not climate change”, adding “we don’t want to have to fight with the Government – it would be far better if they just got on with it.”

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