Government to create climate change think-tank from academia and agencies

8 Jun 2015

With efforts to curb Ireland’s carbon emissions and renewable energy production ongoing, the Government has put in action a plan to create a think-tank of academics and agencies to ensure targets are met in the future.

Described recently by Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Alex White TD as the “greatest project of our age”, Ireland’s efforts to meet both European and global carbon emission reduction targets are being ramped up, with the possibility that they will not be met.

Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warned specifically about our European Union (EU) target of 20pc of our energy supply to come from renewable sources by 2020, saying it is likely to be missed.

To counteract this, the Government will put together a panel of 10 of the country’s leading authorities on climate change to hone in on how the targets can be met, according to sources who spoke to The Irish Times.

Both academia and policymakers

To be chaired by the former head of the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), John Fitzgerald, the body will also have representatives from the EPA, Teagasc and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), as well as an additional six independent researchers.

Those will include Frank Convery, University College Dublin’s (UCD) professor of environmental policy, and Alan Matthews, Trinity College Dublin’s (TCD) professor emeritus of European agricultural policy in the Department of Economics.

The Government is currently in the final consultation process of its energy White Paper, which will be published later this year and will look to expand Ireland’s renewable energy production outside of onshore wind production to take on other sources, such as solar.

However, eyebrows have been raised following the news of the creation of this new government panel as the Government’s leading authority and expert, Professor John Sweeney of NUI Maynooth, was not selected to be part of the 10-person panel.

Custom House, Dublin image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic