Green economy and sustainability at heart of Government’s recovery plan
Minister to issue draft document stating initiative central to economic growth
A PAPER to be published today by the Department of the Environment states that the “green economy” must be put at the heart of Government policy over the next decade to prevent water scarcity, diminishing natural resources, greater pollution and advancing climate change.
Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan will issue the draft Framework for Sustainable Development. It will state that a central plank of the Republic’s recovery up to 2020 will centre on the development of a green economy.
It also emphasises the development of renewable energy, energy efficiency technologies, and waste and water management.
The 92-page report states that the framework, if implemented, will support the establishment of a green economy and green growth.
“Green growth is needed because risks to development are rising as growth continues to erode natural capital,” it states.
It also warns of the consequences of continuing with the “business-as-usual” model.
“If left unchecked, this would mean increased water scarcity, worsening resource bottlenecks, greater pollution, climate change and irreversible biodiversity loss. If we want to ensure that the improvement in living standards over the past 50 years is maintained, we have to find new ways of production and consumption.”
The Minister has faced criticism for his decision to commission an in-depth review of climate-change policy in 2012, rather than introducing early legislation. Sources say this document underlines his commitment to sustainable and green development, as well as to preventing climate change.
The framework’s aim is to integrate the notion of sustainability into key areas of Government policy and to ensure those policies are implemented.
It will identify and prioritise policy areas to ensure better co-ordination between departments and long-term planning. The paper recognises that there has been a “lack of effective co-operation between departments and the different levels of Government”. It also finds that while some companies have been progressive when it comes to recognising the green agenda, others have not. It is “crucial” to engage business on the need to make sure everything they do has a sustainable basis.
A third key challenge identified by the report is the need for better information and measures to ensure that behaviour and consumption patterns change.
The framework states that the Republic needs to move towards being an “innovative, low-carbon and resource-efficient society”.
It also notes that the protection of vital green spaces need to be prioritised. They comprise woodlands, coastlines, flood plains, lakes, rivers and city parks.
The first policy on sustainable development was published in 1997 but Mr Hogan has acknowledged that “significant gaps” still remain.
“Making sure that economic growth is decoupled from resource use is just one example of where further progress is required,” he said yesterday.
“The ‘business as usual’ model is no longer fit for purpose if we’re to put Ireland on a low carbon, climate resilient and economically competitive path,” he added.
Mr Hogan said t he green economy was ripe for investment, especially in sectors such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and waste and water management.
23 Dec 2011, The Irish Times, HARRY MCGEE Political Correspondent