ICTU claims State must overhaul green policy to hit targets
UP to 40,000 jobs could be created in the 'green' industry, but ambitious government targets are still "pie in the sky", trade unions have warned.
A new report claims the economy could support well beyond the 6,500 workers employed in the environmental sector, but the Government has little hope of achieving its eco-targets.
In a scathing assessment of the Government's 'smart economy' plans, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) claims it must radically alter its policy to achieve any of them.
It said its target of getting 250,000 electric cars on the road by 2020 was unlikely, due to the high cost of the vehicles and as importers were unlikely to ship them without demand.
Last night, opposition politicians warned that the Government was missing a golden opportunity for job creation -- and that we risk being left behind by the green revolution.
The report also said there was an "urgent" need for public-transport providers to commit to using biofuel or electric-powered vehicles.
In addition, it said there would have to be "significant" expansion before the Government would meet a target of 40pc of electricity being generated by renewables by 2020. The amount of renewable energy use grew by 21pc in 2008, with over 12pc of electricity coming from renewable sources.
Chief author of the report, ICTU's Liam Berney, said he did not believe one of the proposed electric car recharging booths was in place yet.
He said the Government needed a comprehensive strategy and a co-ordination unit based in the Department of the Taoiseach, as up to 20 government agencies and departments were vying with green issues.
"Most of the government targets are still pie in the sky," he said. "Ireland has been slow to adapt to change."
The report, 'Green Shoots: Maximising job creation in the Green Economy', said new initiatives, including ocean power and insulating homes, could create up to 6,000 jobs. It said there had been significant expansion in wind power generation, but this was well behind other small countries such as Austria and Denmark.
"In Ireland, there are only about 6,500 people employed in the provision of environmental goods and services. There is no reason why, with the right strategy, we cannot aim to have 40,000 working in the sector," the report said.
The Department of Enterprise did not return calls for comment.