Enterprise Ireland says the road to recovery from the pandemic and the transition to a low-carbon economy must be sustainable for Irish SMEs.

The Irish Government has launched a new Climate Enterprise Action fund with an initial allocation of €10m.

The fund, which will be administered by Enterprise Ireland, will help businesses take action to drive down their emissions and embed sustainability in how they work.

“There is now a huge opportunity for Irish business to reap the financial and reputational benefits of being early adopters when it comes to climate action.”

The new fund will fund up to 850 companies at an early stage of exploring climate and sustainability to develop a high-level company action plan, which will enable them to measure their carbon footprint and identify projects leading to reduced emissions and greater resource efficiency (e.g. energy, water, materials).

The plan will assess the company’s operations, supply chain, market opportunities and challenges through a climate and sustainability lens.

The journey to sustainability

“This Fund is about helping companies, no matter where they are on their journey towards sustainability, to put a plan in place,” An Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, TD, said.

“We hope these companies become exemplars of best practice in their respective fields, so that others can learn from their experience and see what works.

“Some of this Fund will also be channelled into high impact feasibility projects, to explore new ways of working which could ultimately have a really significant impact across Irish enterprise as a whole.”

The new fund will help up to 100 more advanced companies to develop comprehensive multi-annual business plans with climate change and sustainability actions integrated into the company’s overall strategy.

“The government has recently published the Climate Bill which commits Ireland to halving our greenhouse gases by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2050,” said the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications and Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan, TD. “There is now a huge opportunity for Irish business to reap the financial and reputational benefits of being early adopters when it comes to climate action.

“The Enterprise sector will have a key role to play; not only can it take action to reduce its own emissions, it can influence the entire economy by driving innovation in other sectors such as transport, housing, energy and agriculture.

“I would encourage companies to access the fund announced today, along with other supports for businesses such as the EXEED fund from the SEAI. I welcome Enterprise Ireland taking such a proactive approach and I am confident they will help Irish business become leaders in this field.”

A vision without a plan is just a wish

The fund will also support a small number of public/private partnerships working on high-impact feasibility projects that will enhance climate change and sustainability capabilities across Irish enterprise (e.g. R&D, new ways of working) 

“Supporting Irish companies to reduce their carbon footprint and capitalise on opportunities emerging from the low-carbon transition is a key strategic priority for Enterprise Ireland,” said Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland.

“As Irish businesses continue to adapt to the evolving Covid-19 pandemic and prepare for getting back on the road to recovery, we need to also build resilience and ensure Irish companies have the capabilities in place to meet the challenges of climate change.

“Substantial changes are required across the enterprise sector to meet national and EU emissions targets, increasing regulation, changing consumer and buyer preferences. Increasing customer demand for sustainable and innovative products and services will also provide more Irish businesses with opportunities.

“The new €10m Climate Enterprise Action Fund will help a wide range of businesses to accelerate their planning or take the first step to compete and grow in a low-carbon future.

“Enterprise Ireland recently launched a new international ‘Ready for a Green Future’ campaign. The campaign promotes Irish innovators and businesses which are delivering sustainable solutions to tackle climate change,” Sinnamon said.

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 19 April 2021