Press Release: The Energy White Paper is an important step forward but we need to deliver a zero emission future faster

The Environmental Pillar welcome the publication today of the Energy White Paper which outlines a vision for an emission free future.
The Environmental Pillar, which is made up of 28 national environmental groups, welcomes this as a first step in a road towards the end of the use of fossil fuels.
With over 90 actions listed to achieve Ireland’s energy transition the document is broad in scope but it needs to be flexible enough to deliver zero emissions far sooner than the 2100 target.
Elements of the white paper are very welcome, including the emphasis on public participation in energy projects, the new National Energy Forum, support for community energy projects, and the move away from carbon intensive energy production such as peat and coal burning.
The commitment to annual reviews of the plan as well as a five year comprehensive review is a strong element which will help to incorporate the latest scientific advice and for improved targets.
Key issues
  • The Environmental Pillar believe the target of 2100 for zero emissions is too far away and it is clear that this transition away from fossil fuels will need to happen far sooner. This should be acknowledged within the plan and contingencies in place to deliver this.
  • A timeline for the end of peat burning should be developed to stop this most egregious greenhouse gas emitter. This should coincide with a robust employment plan for communities affected and it should deliver the full restoration of our bogs to help with flooding and biodiversity.
  • The promotion of liquid biofuels as the largest contributor to ‘renewable transport’ in the period to 2020 is disturbing. Europe has turned its back on first generation biofuels as they have contributed to the destruction of forests in developing countries and are, in some cases, more carbon intensive than fossil fuels. The use of any biofuel should be strictly managed from production to consumption to guarantee sustainability.
Theresa O’Donohoe, Environmental Pillar spokesperson said:
‘We welcome the publication of Ireland’s Transition to a Low Carbon Energy Future. It is an important milestone for the country to have a plan to end our reliance on fossil fuels even if the deadline for doing so is far too late.
‘At the launch we heard from a student Aisling O’Boyle who was concerned about the future her generation face because of climate change. I think it is vital that we remember voices like Aisling’s when we discuss the future of energy in Ireland because we are working to deliver a future for our children and grandchildren and we must bring that urgency to the issue.
‘The delivery of stronger public participation in energy projects and a National Energy Forum is commendable. We have been calling for this for a long time. We saw the launch disrupted by anti-wind protesters and it is clear that their alienation and that of many communities around Ireland is down to the poor public participation in decisions around renewable projects in their area. With this new focus on public participation it is vital that there is now a responsibility on everyone to participate in this energy transition.

‘The plan for Ireland’s decarbonisation needs to be flexible. We must make it possible for the transition to be delivered far sooner than is planned here. I’m confident this can work as a framework to deliver a low carbon future we just need to attack the plan with the urgency it deserves.’

Notes to the editor
The Energy White Paper is available here.