Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Questions (206)

David Cullinane


206. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of environmental economists employed by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42472/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

There are two members of staff in the Department assigned from the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service - one Senior Economist, who works alongside all of the Departments policy areas in an advisory capacity and one Economist/ Policy Analyst, working in the Climate Policy area. The Department has also established an Evaluation Network, led by our Senior Economist, that has drawn together relevant skill sets across the Department, in particular economic evaluation. The network includes staff from the energy and climate policy divisions.

The Department has a range of other environmental expertise available including in its Environment Advisory Unit, with staff from disciplines including engineering, earth science, environmental and atmospheric science, botany, environmental monitoring and assessment and geography, advising across the environment and climate policy areas.

In addition, the Department can and does draw on the expert advice of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as needed when developing and/or implementing environmental policy. Furthermore, section 55 of the Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1992 as amended, also makes formal provision for any Minister of the Government to request information or advice or recommendations from the EPA for the purposes of environmental protection on any matter relating to that Minister’s functions or responsibilities. As of 15 October 2019, the EPA has an approved staff complement of 420.

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has a specialised team of economic energy modellers. SEAI also has a dedicated Behavioural Economics Unit and an Energy Policy Statistical Support Unit (EPSSU).

The Department also works closely with economists in bodies such as the ESRI and UCC on energy and climate change modelling.