Fossil Free Future for Ireland? Friends of the Earth Ireland Sept 22 2016 with Cara Augustenborg

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Talk with Cara Augustenborg commenting on Ireland’s hopes for a fossil free energy system. Link to full Podcast here; https://soundcloud.com/user-951551250/environmentireland16-fossil

“We are part of the transition generation [for climate changes]”

In an meeting held by Friends of the Earth Ireland Cara Augustenborg began by bringing up the issue of cost.
Will the costs ignoring climate change be worse than engaging with it?
The costs the last few years to the Irish exchequer was 500 million Euro lost because of delayed Spring Fodder crisis in 2013 and over last two years wettest winters with 150 million Euro`s in flood defences. Cara also said in her TED talk last year that lives could become more comfortable, warmer homes, lower energy bills, cleaner air, quieter streets, more connected communities and more innovation creating more jobs.

Focusing on homes and energy.

The Energy White Paper has hopes for 100 percent renewable by 2050
The deadline for new standards in all homes concerning the energy economy is 2021.
Future developments will have nearly 20 percent approx on the bills that we see today in comparable older homes. A new build efficient energy estate in Ireland has been built and has confirmed these savings.
Electric vehicles are a major hope but Ireland has some of the highest sales for diesel in Europe.
The bus system needs to be improved and waste/seaweed fuel options are being looked at. There is so far a lack of political will but she has hopes for the future by asking questions and building awareness.
Communities and High Streets would benefit by having the combustion engine removed and centralisation back to the high streets supporting the local community better.

The food sector

Reduction of absolute emission is necessary and Agriculture needs to adapt accordingly.
Farmers have reported problems with fields being flooded beyond use. She recommends that flood defenses could be done upstream utilising these farmlands whilst reimbursing the farmers to build natural flood defenses. Dairy farming will also needs to adapt.

Jobs benefits?
Ireland currently imports 70 percent of fossil fuels. Saving this expense and creating new localised industry will create some 100,000 new jobs in the new energy economy alone. Also, 150 buses can be run using the waste from just the Irish whiskey industry. Waste from bottles and cups being recycled creates industry and again more jobs.
Cara did note that Ireland needs a refined waste system that does not include incineration (that works diametrically against the targets in the white paper).
Ireland is already missing out on this lucrative industry and Cara gave an example of a company that recently moved to the UK because the support from government is better in the UK than in Ireland (biomass).

Feed in tariffs, Government support or Waiting for Godot?

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Feed in Tariffs are available for communities (Though the risks are heavy) and individuals that wish to invest in Wind Solar and biomass. She pointed out the need for greater engagement with civil society and that local communities stand to benefit greatly.

On the 1 sept last year, head of the Irish Government, Enda Kenny said that he would support the UN sustainability Summit resolution. Yet as 62,000 people a day are being made homeless directly by climate change (As an example 500,000 people have been relocated from only Bangladesh because of the flooding and ruined farmlands.), Ireland is one of only two countries in Europe that will fail its targets and by a staggering 70 percent.

For the next two years there is no incentive to lower fossil fuel use, in fact, Cara said that it is an incentive to up the total national use and make the agreement in two years less painful.

“This is a clarifying moment for Ireland” She said

There is no evidence that the government wants to make any changes. Countering forces to the status quo,  in the renewable energy side, can be found in business and local communities but not the government or media.

Friends of the Earth, 9 Upper Mount Street, Dublin 2, Ireland • 353 1 6394652 • info@foe.iewww.foe.ie

Posted and transcribed (loosely) from the audio link by Shaun McGee

Update Change in copy as to Feed in Tariffs. There are available, but not very user friendly.. (The last version said they were not available and that mistake is on the audio and has been recognised by Prof Augustenborg as an error) . This is a small error as the feed in tariffs are not being used and this  needs to be addressed.

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