Thursday, 24 October 2013

Questions (12)

Michael McGrath


12. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he is concerned at Ireland's reliance on fossil fuels in view of the recent report on climate change produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; the steps he will take in view of this report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44976/13]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

Government climate change policy has been developed in line with the ambitious EU climate and energy targets set for 2020. These targets set three key objectives for 2020: a 20% reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels; raising the share of EU energy consumption produced from renewable resources to 20%; and a 20% improvement in the EU's energy efficiency. The Government is also cognisant of the need for a carefully planned 2030 energy and climate framework. This will be critical in the context of establishing a structured, and cost-effective, transition to a secure and competitive, low-carbon European economy and energy system by 2050.

While responsibility for climate change policy is primarily a matter for the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, my Department, which has responsibility for energy policy, has a critical role to play in delivering effective interventions required to achieve climate policy objectives. Ireland is currently heavily reliant on imported fossil fuels to meet our energy needs. While it is acknowledged that fossil fuels will remain part of the energy mix for some time to come, progress is being made towards increasing the share of renewable energy in our energy requirements and improving energy efficiency. The 2009 EU Renewable Energy Directive set Ireland a legally binding target of meeting 16% of our energy requirements from renewable sources by 2020. In order to meet this target, Ireland is committed to meeting 40% of electricity demand, 12% of heating and 10% of transport power from renewable sources, with the transport target also being legally binding. In 2012 19.5% of our electricity demand was met by renewable generation. Provisional figures show that at the end of 2012, 5.1% of heat demand and 2.3% of the energy in the transport sector was met by renewables.

Energy efficiency remains one of the most effective methods of lowering emissions, reducing energy bills and decreasing our dependence on imported fossil fuels. In the second National Energy Efficiency Action Plan, the Government reaffirmed its commitment to a 20% national energy savings target and outlined a range of ambitious, but realisable, actions to be taken. While we are progressing towards meeting our current targets under the EU 2020 framework, it is critical that we also address the task of developing and implementing the new EU 2030 climate and energy framework. The timely progression of this work, which is being led by the European Commission and is scheduled for discussion at the European Council in early 2014, will provide much needed policy and regulatory certainty. This certainty will be key to releasing the investment necessary to deliver the energy infrastructure, without which, long term energy and climate objectives cannot be realised.

Question No. 13 answered with Question No. 8.