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Friday 23 August 2019

Key departments are failing to hit energy-saving targets

Irish Rail improved efficiency and achieved its 2020 goal. Photo: PA
Irish Rail improved efficiency and achieved its 2020 goal. Photo: PA
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

Key Government departments responsible for tackling climate change are failing to deliver energy savings needed to reduce dangerous levels of emissions.

A new report from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) says the three departments of Climate Action and Environment, Housing and Transport are not making sufficient progress to improve energy efficiency, and are "not on track" to achieve 2020 targets.

It comes as the Government this week is expected to begin a public consultation on the State's long-term plan to tackle climate change.

The National Mitigation Plan will set out the measures needed in each sector of the economy amid widespread criticism from environment groups and the Green Party that it is failing to act.

The SEAI report finds just six of the 16 Government departments are on track to meet a national target to improve energy efficiency by 33pc by 2020. The Department of the Taoiseach is 28pc less efficient, and is the worst-performing department.

It also finds just one of the ten biggest energy users in the State is poised to meet the targets. Irish Rail has improved efficiency by 36pc, meaning it has achieved the 2020 goal, but its contemporaries are lagging behind.

The details are contained in the 2016 Public Sector Energy Efficiency Performance report to be published today.

This is the third report from the SEAI on how the public sector is tackling energy efficiency, and it reveals that to date, savings of 21pc have been achieved. This compares with 14pc in 2013, and 17pc in 2014.

Some 337 public bodies, from 350 required to do so, submitted reports. Another 1,792 schools, of 3,732, also complied. Some 89pc of total energy consumption in the public sector was accounted for by these groups, which spent €588m last year.

But had efficiency measures not been introduced, the bill would have risen by €154m. Some 548,000 tonnes of carbon was also saved as a result of work carried out.

Overall, almost half (48pc) of the public sector is more efficient and is on track to meet the 2020 target. While one in three (34pc) have made savings, they are not sufficient to meet the target.

Almost one in five (18pc) are less efficient. Achieving the targets will be "challenging", the report says.

"Efficiency gains have been achieved through implementation of thousands of diverse projects ranging from structured energy management, building and facility upgrades, retrofits, changes in transportation, better energy procurement and through behavioural change in organisations," the report says.

"Overall, the energy performance reported is strong at 21pc improvement by 2015. However, there are still significant challenges ahead for public bodies to maintain this course of action and sustain continuous improvement to meet the 2020 targets."

Among the issues include problems with data verification. The report says work is required to ensure information from some government departments including Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, along with state agencies including the National Treasury Management Agency, is accurate.

Irish Independent

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