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Rebutting ESB and GNI responses to our report on “The Role of Public Bodies in Driving Ireland’s Decarbonisation”

10 Sep 2020

The responses of the ESB and GNI, as per an Irish Times article “ESB rejects report findings on fossil fuel ‘lock-in’ and defends record” skirt the central point of the report published by Friends of the Earth. If their policies and strategies are indeed in line with international and national commitments on climate action, it follows that they should have no objection to an amendment of their mandates to align with those commitments.

The ESB’s and GNI’s latest strategies do not reflect the higher ambition of the Government’s net zero by 2050 target. The ESB’s decarbonisation roadmap (2017, p.26) emphasises the need for carbon capture and storage - a claim the ESB refutes, contradicting its own publication. Additionally, EirGrid has stated (p.21) that if investment decisions in capital intensive infrastructure are made "without a strong incentive" for CCS development, "large volumes of carbon will be locked into the electricity system for another 30 years''. Therefore it was not incorrect to state ESB strategies “are highly dependent on the development of carbon capture and storage”, as was claimed by the ESB spokesman.

One would expect the ESB to back up their claim that they are not contributing to carbon lock-in, but they simply assert it without evidence. It is absurd to argue that building new gas infrastructure that is designed to operate for several decades is not fossil fuel lock-in.

The ESB and Gas Networks Ireland may point to strides they have made to decarbonise, however to do this while facilitating an expansion in fossil gas infrastructure contradicts climate science. Alignment of their legal mandates with their decarbonisation commitments is surely a sensible step.


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