According to one insulation company executive, Ireland is missing a golden opportunity, with the government dragging its heels over a planned climate action plan. John Mulligan explains in an article on the Irish Independent website. It would be good to hear from some of our Irish EiD readers if they agree.
Ireland risks a ‘missed chance’ to capitalise on its energy potential
Ireland has failed to do enough to transform the economy’s energy efficiency and it risks a “missed opportunity” to capitalise on its renewable energy potential, according to Gene Murtagh, the chief executive of Cavan-based global insulation giant Kingspan.
“There’s been very little tangible evidence of the move towards a more efficient energy economy,” he told the Irish Independent. “It’s a missed opportunity.”
The Government has been dragging its heels over a planned climate action plan as Brexit approaches.
Richard Bruton, Climate Action and the Environment Minister, received approval last November from the Cabinet to engage a plan that would force all Government departments and State agencies to implement measures and targets to address climate concerns. While a final report on the plan is due towards the end of next month, it’s been previously reported that it could be put on ice if there’s a hard Brexit.
The plan will detail actions, target dates and milestones for the three main sectors emitting carbon – agriculture, industry and transport to reduce carbon emissions by 30pc between 2021 and 2030.
Mr Bruton has warned that if Ireland misses its EU-mandated 2030 carbon reduction targets, the country will face up to €5.5bn in fines.
“We’re going to be subject to penalties, which we will be paying,” said Mr Murtagh.
“That money is far better invested in moving the economy towards a more renewable source of power, rather than being fined for having achieved nothing,” he said.
Mr Murtagh, whose company generated revenues of almost €4.4bn last year and has a €7bn-plus market capitalisation, said the payback associated with investment in cleaner technology is “very compelling”.
He said Ireland’s climate and geography is ideally suited for “much more” wind energy generation.
“But it’s not just that. We think that [energy] conservation is the place to start,” he said.
“There’s much more can be done to actually conserve the requirement for power in the first place.”
Mr Murtagh said more than 40pc of emissions relate to heat from buildings.
“To be fair, Ireland has been quite progressive on that going back in time but there’s been very little advance on that front in recent years,” he said.
“The cost of building to standard to conserve power should generate its own payback. At the end of the day all things are based on a return on investment,” said Mr Murtagh.
A report published last year by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland found that in 2015 Irish homes were using 7pc more energy on average than the European average.
However, Irish homes are responsible for 58pc more carbon emissions than their European counterparts.