Ireland at COP21: Minister White claims we are on target for 16pc renewables

7 Dec 2015

As world leaders continue to descend on Paris for COP21, Ireland’s Minister for Energy Alex White arrived today (7 December), and claimed we can still make the target of 16pc renewable energy production by 2020.

While Ireland might not be the biggest player at a conference of the world’s largest and most influential nations, today marks Minster White’s first appearance at COP21, which has already seen An Taoiseach Enda Kenny attend, albeit cautiously.

Speaking last week, Kenny said that the target set for Ireland – lowering carbon emissions by 20pc by 2020 – is not fair on a country that is a major producer of agricultural goods. But Minister White appears more confident of our chances of meeting those renewable energy targets.

Attending the Lima Paris Action Agenda meeting on Renewable Energy, Minister White said in advance of his talk that Ireland is well placed to meet its legally-binding EU target to source 16pc of total energy use from renewable sources by 2020.

This is in spite of the cautious news earlier this year that Ireland has only now achieved the halfway point of 8pc renewable energy production in the 23 years that we have been analysing this roll-out.

“Poised to do great things”

Of course, major change has been occurring in the past five years that was not possible in the preceding ones. Initiatives like renewable marine energy are considered as areas where energy production could be dramatically increased, going by what those within the industry are saying.

“Ireland and the international community face a huge task but, whatever the difficulties, I believe we can meet the challenge of global warming,” Minister White said. “Last week, Ireland became one of only a handful of European countries to legislate on this when the Climate Change Bill completed its passage through the Oireachtas. Next week, I will publish an energy White Paper, which will set out a vision of how Ireland will achieve a low carbon energy system. We are poised to do great things.”

It does appear, however, that some of the targets that are subsections of the key target are struggling to be reached, particularly with clean energy transport accounting for only around 5pc of its 10pc target.

“On transport, we clearly have to increase our efforts if we are to meet the 10pc target, as does every other EU country,” Minsiter White said on the matter. “We need to encourage much greater adoption of electric cars and we can increase the ‘biofuel obligation,’ which requires minimum amounts of biofuel to be contained in petrol and diesel.”

Meanwhile, the world superpowers continue to dominate the discussions and the interest from fellow nation leaders, with news that Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country will not stand in the way of any deal at the summit, despite on-going political tensions with the other major powers attending it.

However, there is growing dismay from many smaller developing nations, who believe that the proposal of financial commitments to tackling climate change will cripple them financially if put into effect.

Arc de Triomphe image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic