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Irish government outlines domestic and business energy overhaul

Irish government outlines domestic and business energy overhaul

Irish government outlines domestic and business energy overhaul

Conducting an all-encompassing rethink of how businesses and homes are heated and powered, as well as many other issues, is likely to prove a crucial part of the mission to tackle climate change.

That's according to Ireland's minister for energy Alex White, who gave a speech at Dublin's Mansion House to mark the launch of an ambitious new energy project by the Irish government.

A whitepaper, titled 'Ireland's Transition to a Low-Carbon Energy Future 2015-2030', outlines a number of actions to support the country's aim of reducing its energy-related carbon emissions by between 80 per cent and 95 per cent - from 1990 levels - by 2050.

Mr White said the eventual goal is for Ireland to generate 100 per cent of its power from clean, sustainable sources.

This is the first time an Irish government has set out a plan for the eventual elimination of fossil fuels.

The short to medium-term targets state that low-carbon, sustainable energy sources will take over from high-carbon fuels like peat and coal, before fossil fuels are largely replaced by renewables by 2050.

By 2100, the aim is to bring greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector down to around or below zero.

The whitepaper outlines more than 90 actions that will be necessary in order for Ireland to achieve its energy transition.

An "accelerated and diversified" programme of renewable energy generation is among the steps required to make the initiative work, along with a stronger focus on energy efficiency, enabled by innovative financing.

The document also promises stronger regulation, more extensive European cooperation and appropriate infrastructure to facilitate the changes.

Mr White said one factor that will be absolutely crucial to the success of the project is citizens engaging with energy policies and their implementation. He stressed that a collective effort will be required to address the threat of climate change.

"Meeting the challenge of global warming can no longer be confined to the realm of international treaties or government decisions," the minister said.

"It is about changing the way we heat our homes and businesses. It is about reassessing how we travel."

The importance of all energy users - including businesses and homeowners - becoming "agents of change" in energy generation and consumption is a theme that runs throughout the whitepaper.

Mr White explained: "The state will provide the supports to enable energy consumers to become active energy citizens.

"Our energy system is going to change from one that is almost exclusively led by government and utilities, to one where individuals and communities will increasingly be participants in energy efficiency and renewable energy generation and distribution."

This principle of many different collaborators and stakeholders pulling together to achieve a common goal was also at the heart of the recent climate summit in Paris.

The talks concluded with an agreement on targets including net zero carbon emissions by the end of the century and maximum global temperature increases of two degrees C.

Energy and climate change secretary Amber Rudd said the deal will ensure countries are "held to account" for their climate commitments, while providing a "clear signal" to the business world of the need to invest in the low-carbon transition.

 

Posted by William Rodriguez

Image courtesy of ThinkStock