The Taoiseach has said the Government cannot afford to fund the retrofitting of every house in the country to cut carbon emissions. 

Speaking in the Dáil, Leo Varadkar said it would cost between €40-€50 billion to complete such work, and it would be dishonest of any politician to suggest the Government could afford to pay for that work to be done.  

He was responding to Labour leader Brendan Howlin who said "we only have 11 years left to make major changes to our economy and way of life to limit global warming."

Mr Howlin said the cross party climate report, which was published last week is Ireland's response to that international challenge.

"It commits to reducing our emissions by nearly half in the next 11 years", he said.

He said the cross-party committee report shows the largest sources of emissions are agriculture, electricity generation and transport, with industry and commerce and home heating providing most of the rest. 

"Our commitment is to reduce our emissions to 33 million tonnes in 11 years. Is the Government prepared to oversee agriculture reducing its emissions from 20 million tonnes to 11 million tonnes over the next 11 years and how?

Are you willing to investment public money in a massive programme of retrofitting? Are you ready to get transport emissions down from 12.5 to 6 million tonnes?" he asked.

Responding, Mr Varadkar, said he regretted that "Sinn Féin and the radical left couldn't sign up to the report".  

"It should be evident to the young people who took part in those protests that progress lies in the centre and centre-left", he said.

"Each minister has been asked to examine the report and inform Minister Bruton all of Government action plan, and I've asked that there be a debate in the Dáil. I agree that we need to catch up over the next couple of years."

On reducing emissions in the area of agriculture, Mr Varadkar said: "We are keen to work with farmers and with the agri-food industry to reduce emissions."

"But we need to do that in a way that protects the livelihoods of farmers and the agri-food industry. And that's the approach that we're going to be taking to modernise farming and to reform the CAP. That is going to require big changes. We're up for that and want to do it in a collaborative way."

He said the cost of retrofitting all the homes in the country is between €40-50 billion "and it is not going to be possible for the Government to meet that cost". 

Mr Varadkar said: "If that were to be done over 10 years it would cost €5 billion per year, but it's dishonest to suggest that the Government should pay for all those changes, that's not going to be possible, but we can help". 

On transport, Mr Varadkar said "the big shift we need over the next ten to 15 years is for people to buy electric vehicles and hybrids". 

He said the Government can assist through grants and carbon taxes to help people make those changes.