Thursday 29 September 2016

Paul Melia: White Paper is opportunity lost for Government

Published 17/12/2015 | 02:30

Moneypoint in Co Clare is Ireland’s largest electricity generation station
Moneypoint in Co Clare is Ireland’s largest electricity generation station

The Government's long-awaited White Paper on Energy is high on ambition but short on detail.

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Designed to send a "signal" to citizens about how our energy policy is changing, it sets out the kind of policies we need to reduce fossil fuel consumption by 80pc to 95pc by 2100.

But what it doesn't do is give clear policy direction, suggesting that unpopular decisions needed to move to a low-carbon economy will be left to the next Government.

It doesn't offer a view on fracking, saying a decision will be guided by the outcome of research overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency.

It appears to rule out nuclear, without any real debate, and it doesn't set out what will happen with peat, beyond noting that Bord na Mona is moving away from this fuel source.

Nor does it address the question of what to do with Moneypoint, the country's largest power station which uses high-polluting coal to generate electricity.

But there is much to be lauded in this document, including the establishment of a National Energy Forum to foster debate.

Although this Government is reaching the endgame, it could have set out its stall with ambitious targets for specific sectors which may have swayed many voters seeking action on climate change. To that extent, it's an opportunity lost, but it at least sets out a template of what we need to do to move to a low-carbon economy.

Irish Independent

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