NFLA All Ireland media release
With yesterday’s dramatic resignation of Energy Minister Denis Naughten, the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) All Ireland Forum calls on his successor to reconsider the state of low carbon energy on the island, and initiate moves to speed up this programme. This is even more relevant given the urgency of this week’s IPCC report suggesting work has to be prioritised in this area to achieve substantial carbon cuts by 2030. (1)
While Ireland has developed a considerable amount of renewable energy infrastructure in the past decade, it is towards the ‘back of the pack’ in the EU in terms of the speed with which decarbonisation is taking place.
NFLA have inputted a number of times with its detailed views on the future development of Irish energy policy, and produces regular reports for its member authorities on the real benefits of local, decentralised energy schemes. Its most recent report emphasises the huge climate change imperative and urgency in the role of deploying renewables as part of the process to decarbonise Ireland. (2)
The NFLA report also shows a large number of exciting examples across all areas of local government in Ireland and the UK committing and developing to major cuts in carbon emissions, renewable electricity schemes, low carbon housing, community energy schemes, an introduction of innovative ‘smart’ energy schemes, renewable heat and renewable transport. This is being undertaken despite the sector enduring the most austere of times in the history of local government. Think what more can be achieved in a stronger partnership with central government? The urgency of this challenge means that tackling climate change has to be a core response for all Councils.
Our report showed some Irish examples of best practice, but there were nowhere near as many as can be seen across the Irish Sea in England, Scotland and Wales. The new Minister should work will colleagues in government to give Irish Councils greater powers to enable them to play a more prominent role to galvanise all sectors of the local community behind the urgent need to decarbonise. A good early example of this would be to open up the limited feed-in tariff scheme to Councils and the private sector. Experience in Germany and the UK shows that Councils greatly benefited from the support of such schemes to place solar and battery storage schemes on their own Council buildings and on their land, on schools and in linking in and cooperating with community energy cooperatives.
The IPCC report shows Ireland, like the rest of the world, lies on a precipice overlooking large levels of environmental degradation should the worst effects of climate change hit our island in just a single generation’s time. It is incumbent for the new Energy Minister to understand that sense of urgency and make the battle against climate change the most essential part of the entire Government’s programme. Not only would it preserve our beautiful landscape for future generations to come, it could generate new jobs and bring about positive societal change.
NFLA All Ireland Forum Co Chair, Councillor Mark Dearey said:
“The shock resignation of Energy Minister Denis Naughten comes at the end of a week when we were all told if Ireland and the world does not change its ways in generating levels of unsustainable carbon emissions the cost for all of us and future generations could be stark. I call on whoever is appointed as Mr Naughten’s successor to inject a greater sense of urgency in an emergency programme to decarbonise Ireland. For far too long Ireland has been a laggard in the EU in its limited, and at times timid approach to these matters. The Minister also needs to enable Councils to play a much greater role in this immense project. Experience shows in countries as diverse as the UK, Germany, Portugal and Denmark that the positive plans and actions of town, city and county councils is crucial to success in the endeavour to drastically reduce carbon emissions by promoting local renewable, decentralised energy projects. Ireland needs to follow that lead and to do it urgently.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) IPCC, Summary for Policymakers of the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC (SR15), October 2018
(2) NFLA Policy Briefing 175, ‘Decentralised energy and the climate change imperative’, May 2018