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BUDGET 2018: Challenge of climate change requires leaps, not steps, in the right direction

11 October, 2017

Measures contained in Budget 2018 show steps in the right direction on energy and climate change, but fall far short of what is required, according to the Irish Wind Energy Association.

IWEA Head of Communications and Public Affairs Adam Ledwith said: “There are positive elements included in Budget 2018 and they are to be welcomed. But we are concerned by the lack of ambition, particularly given that the government’s own Economic and Fiscal Outlook rates Ireland’s exposure from failure to meet our targets in energy and emissions as “high risk”. The economic and social cost of failure here could be very significant for Ireland.

“In a nutshell, the government is going in the right direction, but very slowly. We need leaps, not just steps in the right direction. At this juncture, we are very far behind where we need to be and we fear this is only going to get worse.

“One aspect of the budget that has not received too much attention is the €34.8m in funding for the Environmental Protection Agency. We believe this is significant as the EPA is being given additional responsibility in the area of noise monitoring from wind farms as part of the reform of the wind farm regulations. IWEA supports this measure and the EPA’s authority and independence in this regard will be very important.”

Other measures in the budget include:

- Additional investment of €35m in energy efficiency programmes targeted at reducing CO2 emissions from the built environment

- €7m to facilitate the rollout of the new Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme

- €10m to incentivise the use of electric vehicles

“IWEA supports the emphasis Minister Denis Naughten has placed on air quality. Four deaths per day can be attributed to air pollution in Ireland and asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease are among the most serious issues that face the health service every year. Both conditions are heavily impacted by air quality. An operational 50MW wind farm off-sets the emission of harmful greenhouse gases, such as 74,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. Our energy use relates directly to the quality of air we breathe on a daily basis and we believe the increased use of renewable energy will continue to off-set harmful emissions from fossil fuels.

IWEA Head of Policy Dr. David Connolly commented: “IWEA welcomes the additional government support for sustainable energy in the budget and strongly supports the growth of renewable energy in heat and transport, especially with heat pumps and electric cars. However, even though these are steps in the right direction, the scale of support does not reflect the scale of the challenge facing Ireland in the coming years. Ireland is likely to face non-compliance fines equating to hundreds of millions of euro in 2020 if we fail to meet our EU targets. It is much better if the Irish Governments spends this money in Ireland in the next 2-3 years to avoid these fines, rather than under achieve and pay these fines to another EU Member State so they can invest in sustainable solutions to compensate for our shortfall.”

Adam Ledwith concluded: “Irish energy policy needs leadership, focus and ambition. Ireland spends approximately €15m per day on imported fossil fuels. This is neither stable, sustainable or sensible. Ireland’s future energy policy requires a new and ongoing public dialogue involving the wider energy stakeholders, economic monitors and communities. We are already seeing this through the Citizens’ Assembly and the forthcoming National Dialogue on Climate Action. This process must ensure communities are involved, respected and resourced to participate.”

For additional information or comment contact: Adam Ledwith on +353 86 0453569 or by email to adam@iwea.com