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Jobs potential of 'green economy' stressed

Source: Irish Times

POTENTIAL FOR more than 80,000 sustainable jobs exists in the “green economy” by 2020, a Government-backed report has claimed.

The report of the High Level Action Group on Green Enterprise yesterday concluded that green jobs in Ireland could account for 4 per cent of total employment by 2020. The group, formed in May, was asked to explore how a vibrant green enterprise sector could be developed in Ireland.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen said the global demand for environmental goods and services is worth about €700 billion. “If we make the right moves, Ireland can benefit from that large and growing global market.”

The group’s chairman, businessman Joe Harford, told a press conference many opportunities for the green economy exists to make a major contribution to Ireland’s economy. Mr Harford said that green enterprise could drive wealth creation and gave the example of South Korea where 80 per cent of its stimulus package, some €60 billion, will focus on green enterprise.

“Ireland is blessed with natural resources, with some of the best wind and ocean energy in the world,” he said. These sectors have the potential to create almost 18,000 jobs by 2020, the report concludes. Mr Harford added that the Government would have to move quickly if Ireland was to have “first-mover advantage” in the key areas identified by the report.

The revised programme for government promised the creation of 127,000 green jobs over the next decade as part of its smart economy framework.

Some 35,000 of those jobs were promised by the smart technology initiative published in July and a further 80,000 were identified yesterday.

The balance is due to be announced by the task force in January. The report identifies jobs potential in other forms of renewable technologies, including a new smart grid, smart meters, bio-energy, solar energy and electric vehicles.

It has also recommended an ambitious retrofit programme for Irish homes, the introduction of a carbon tax, as well as further improvements to standards for energy-efficient homes.

The most eye-catching initiative is a proposal for green enterprise zones, which will cluster enterprises specialising in green products and services.

There is also a new plan for a “green IFSC” (international financial services centre) which would provide a centre for green investment, fund administration and carbon-trading markets.

The report also recommends the creation of what it calls “world-class research centres in niche areas”. It recommends a whole-of-Government drive to market Ireland as a “test-bed centre” in areas such as wind and marine energies where the country is perceived to be a leader.

However, the authors also point out: “Irish research in the green sector lacks an overarching strategy. Much of the focus to date in the green area has been on energy research and development.”






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