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Business leaders urge Taoiseach to support low-carbon economy

Source: Irish Times

Taoiseach Brian Cowen has been told by some of Ireland’s business leaders that the Government needs to prepare strong legislation on climate change, based on the latest scientific evidence.

Representatives of companies such as Arup consulting engineers, Bord na Móna, Diageo plc, Intel, KPMG, NTR, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Siemens and Vodafone all called for “a major effort to transform Ireland to a low-carbon economy”.

The Irish Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change met the Taoiseach at Government Buildings in Dublin prior to his departure for this week’s United Nations summit in New York and stressed the need for Ireland to take action.

“Climate change is the greatest threat humanity faces in the 21st century”, they said in a joint statement.

“It poses unacceptable social, environmental and economic risks and demands a transformational change in how we manage our economy.

“However, the shift to a low climate-risk economy also holds out enormous opportunities for those who move first and fast. Ireland has the potential to be a world leader in green enterprise and technology, generating jobs . . . and prosperity for the 21st century.”

They said their companies and many others were “keen to make the leap to a low-carbon future”. However, they cautioned Ireland was “in danger of missing this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” if it delayed taking action because of the economic recession.

“To make the transition to a low climate-risk economy, we need to create a step-change in the development of low-carbon goods and services by rapidly scaling up our investments in new and existing technologies”, the business leaders said.

They suggested that Ireland could become “a leading destination for green investment, innovation and enterprise”, replicating its past success in attracting investment in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, financial services and information technology.

This would involve a “whole-of-government” approach, with the Department of the Taoiseach taking overall responsibility for climate policy, co-ordinating initiatives such as the smart economy, innovation, green enterprise and a “reprioritised” National Development Plan.

In a separate development, the ESB reiterated its commitment to “decarbonise” electricity production, reducing emissions by 50 per cent by 2020 with a €4 billion investment in renewable energy projects and €10.5 billion in developing a “smarter” grid.

The ESB is targeting clean technology through its new €200 million eco-investment fund as well as expanding its renewable energy portfolio - with targets of 600 megawatts (mw) of wind by 2012, 1,600mw by 2020 and 150mw of ocean energy by 2020.

 






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