Monday 22 July 2019

Financial constraints could hamper Ireland's battle to confront climate change

Alex White
Alex White

Mark O'Regan

Financial constraints could hamper Ireland’s battle to confront climate change.

Energy Minister Alex White has warned this country is now at a "climate crossroads".

He said Ireland must "expedite" the transition to a low carbon economy, as weather patterns are changing, sea levels rising, and the general eco system is being affected.

However, various financial "constraints" could impinge on this plan.

But despite these financial challenges, he insisted the Government is committed to transforming our energy production, and consumption patterns.

The plan is that by 2050 our system will be "largely decarbonised."

"The impact of global warming demands that we put sustainability at the very centre of our energy policy," he said.

"There is no single action that, by itself, can achieve energy security.

"We will rely on a range of measures to ensure that the light continues to come on when we flick the switch."

However, Minister White warned about the challenges of realising this vision.

"We will be constrained by the availability of capital and other resources.

"Some of our decisions will involve costs as well as benefits.

"We will be presented with many difficult choices as we juggle the sometimes conflicting priorities of affordability, sustainability and energy security."

As a "geographically peripheral nation", Ireland will continue to rely on imported fossil fuels during the energy transition, although that dependence will "diminish over time", he said.

Minister White said onshore wind had been at the centre of Ireland's renewable energy generation so far.

"It has served us well, and will continue to do so. But the next period of energy transition will also see the development of new commercial and late-stage solutions."

He also said job opportunities arise from the development of new technologies to mitigate carbon emissions.

His Department is working closely with the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation "to launch the European Energy Innovation Hub to develop technologies and capture their enterprise and employment potential."

He was speaking this morning in Dublin to a group of almost 300 'energy stakeholders' in the final public consultation session, before the publication of an energy White Paper in the autumn.

The audience included citizens' groups, academics, elected representatives, regulators and energy companies.

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