Ireland sets out ‘green deal’ for the smart economy

26 Jun 2009

Ireland’s Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Tánaiste Mary Coughlan TD, has outlined a new ‘Green New Deal’ that aims to establish Ireland as a leader in green technology globally.

She said the move will make enabling certain green technologies the centrepiece of the Government’s smart economy strategy.

“A smart economy is a green economy,” said the Tánaiste (pictured), who was speaking at a seminar, ‘France-Ireland: Shared Perspectives on Innovation and Renewable Energies’, which was jointly organised by Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, the Franco-Irish Chamber of Commerce and Athema, in Cercle de l’Union Interalliée, Paris.

“Putting energy efficiency at the heart of this strategy will protect us from the inevitable rise in the cost of energy ‘inputs’ and the pollution ‘outputs’ arising from our economic activity,” she explained.

The green deal includes an Action Group on Green Enterprise to identify and pursue opportunities for jobs and economic growth; major investment in energy infrastructure, renewable power and energy efficiency; incentives for energy-efficient investment; support for companies and farmers to sell electricity they generate back to the grid; and targeting opportunities in areas such as ocean and wind power, and electric vehicles, where Ireland could establish a competitive advantage.

A key feature of the smart economy involves building the innovation or ‘ideas’ component of the Irish economy through using the knowledge, skills and creativity of people, and their ability and effectiveness in translating ideas into valuable processes, products and services.

Minister Coughlan said Ireland’s objective is to develop a smart economy and become known as the innovation island.

“Notwithstanding the current international economic environment, the Irish Government is committed to Ireland maintaining its global competitiveness, and that is why we continue to place innovation at the heart of our economic development agenda and have invested heavily in its development,” she said.

The Tánaiste later told a business networking dinner for French and Irish business executives in the Irish Embassy in Paris that more than 50 leading French multinational companies had chosen Ireland as an investment location, spanning activities such as manufacturing, research and innovation, technology support, electronics and financial services.

She said Irish companies were increasingly investing in the French economy, with more than five times as many Irish-owned companies establishing a presence in France last year as did in 2007.

France was Ireland’s fifth largest merchandise trading partner in 2008, and Ireland is the third largest importer of French goods per person – after Belgium and Switzerland.

By John Kennedy


Pictured: Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Coughlan TD