SEAI report shows political will is missing ingredient. Politicians are sleepwalking us into massive fines, missing massive opportunities.
6 Apr 2016
Reacting to today's SEAI report on the actions required to meet our 2020 climate-polluting emissions targets, Friends of the Earth Director, Oisin Coghlan, commented:
"The first thing that strikes you on reading the SEAI report on how we can reach our 2020 emissions targets is the typical Irish line 'Well, I wouldn't start from here'.
"The SEAI proposals are eminently sensible but they are challenging mostly because of the lack of action until now.
"The missing ingredient is political will. It was missing during the election campaign and there's little sign of it yet in the talks on government formation.
"Back in 2007 the parties made the mistake of forming a Government without focusing on the overheating economy. It would be equally irresponsible now to form a Government without focusing on the overheating planet.
"The electorate may not be focused on climate action right now, but they won't thank our political class if they sleepwalk us into billions of euro's worth of fines for missing our targets. Especially when the investment to achieve the targets would also give us warmer homes and cleaner air and create tens of thousands of jobs."
The SEAI report details the exact action required to meet our energy targets compared to our current situation. Key actions include:
Action required 2014 status
2. Between 200MW and 250MW of additional wind capacity must be installed every year to 2020
3. Supply of between 440m and 500m litres of biofuels must be used for transport to increase the biofuel consumption level by 8% by 2020
4. 20% of all new car sales within the next five years must be electric
Friends of the Earth's analysis of their feasibility by 2020 is as follows:
- Retrofitting homes. Doable, but only with a big increase in state supports (at least a tripling of the grant pot by SEAI's own calculations to get from 25,000 homes a year to 75,000). We think there should be an SSIA-style scheme for retrofitting where the state tops up your investment by 1 euro for every 4 euro you invest. But there also needs to be significantly increased resources for organizations like the Tipperary Energy Agency who do such a good job of helping people to actually manage the home upgrade project.
- Wind energy. Doable but only with measures to win back the trust of local communities. Two best measures are 1) a payment for solar electricity so communities and households can unleash a "rooftop revolution". And 2) shared ownership of developer-led renewable energy projects, following the Danish model where developers have to enable local communities to take a 20% equity stake in new projects or they can't proceed. These measures will contribute actual megawatts mostly after 2020 but they will help rebuild trust now and therefore increase the social support for wind energy that is in the pipeline to meet the 2020 targets but could yet be delayed or defeated by protests.
- Biofuels. Highly unlikely and most likely undesirable. That big a leap in supply would almost certainly all be from imports and we don't think we can be assured the imports would be sustainably produced, not displacing vulnerable people, food crops or virgin forest in the global south.
- Electric cars. A bright future but 20% seems most unlikely "within the next 5 years". There does need to be some sort of state-sponsored jump start now but realistically benefits will mostly be seen after 2020.