Fine Gael environmental spokesman Phil Hogan believes that 50,000 jobs could be created in Ireland within the next decade if more people begin to “embrace environmental proposals and alternate technology”.

He said at Fine Gael’s National Conference in Wexford: “Instead of the environment as an elite concern of the urban middle class, we will turn it into a national obsession.”

Mr Hogan added money that should be spent towards improving hospitals and schools within the next decade could be spent on buying carbon credits if the country continues to fail to meet carbon emission targets.

It was stated that €75m could be spent annually in buying the credits, leading to a figure of €350m by 2020, money which could be spent on improving the country elsewhere.

According to Sustainable Energy Ireland, last year the country’s biggest companies saved €55m by being more energy efficient.

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