Guest Blog: Klair Neenan, SSE Airtricity

30 Aug 2021 | 09.00 am

Guest Blog: Klair Neenan, SSE Airtricity

Time to accelerate Ireland's climate response

30 Aug 2021 | 09.00 am

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The enshrining into law of Ireland’s new Climate Action Plan was rightly celebrated. But the real work starts now, driving ahead with Ireland’s net zero journey, writes Klair Neenan of SSE.

It’s now less than 100 days until the world’s foremost decision makers will gather for the COP26 climate conference. The eyes of an expectant world will be firmly on Glasgow for two weeks, with hopes high that the outcomes from the Conference of the Parties will result in a step-change in how the world’s largest polluters are reacting to the increasingly real threat of climate change.

The targets laid down at COP26 will have a big impact on Ireland, and we must be ready to respond. Encouraging progress has been made in recent months with the new Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act signed into law recently. The government’s plan is full of ambition but it must be backed by firm and concerted action. It’s time for the (sustainably powered) rubber to meet the (sustainably built) road.

Net Zero Commitment

At SSE Airtricity, we’re proud that our parent company, SSE plc, is a Principal Partner of COP26. For us, this is no ordinary sponsorship, but rather a statement of how seriously we’re taking the net zero challenge and our commitment to support policy makers in achieving it. We know we must play our part in moving the climate emissions dial, and we are driven by our purpose – to provide energy needed today while building a better world of energy for tomorrow.??

Preparing for 2050 is important, but if we do not make progress in the 2020s and deliver on our 2030 climate commitments, the task ahead will be even more challenging. Among the goals of Ireland’s Climate Action Plan 2019 is to have 70% of energy coming from renewable sources by 2030. We hope this will be increased to 80% when Ireland publishes its updated Climate Action Plan later this year.

Offshore Wind

To deliver on this ambition, offshore wind development needs to begin now. Projects capable of delivering by the middle of this decade such as Arklow Bank Wind Park Phase 2 need to be facilitated in Ireland’s first Offshore RESS auction. Getting the first commercial project in the water is critical to help build the supply chain in Ireland, put Ireland on track to 51% emissions reductions by 2030, and provide much needed generation capacity to replace emissions-intensive power stations due for closure.

Ireland’s climate ambitions will require a transformation, not just in our electricity supply but also in the built environment, transport and all aspects of our lives. Supports are needed to enable businesses and consumers to retrofit offices and homes, install small-scale technologies, and make the switch to electric transport.

Just Transiton

A transformation in our behavioural habits is central to our success too. The rapid move towards net zero brings a risk that some people will be left behind. This cannot be allowed to happen, and a just transition needs to be a key focus of Ireland’s approach.

Ensuring this happens will require the swift implementation of Ireland’s updated and ambitious Climate Action Plan. Eamon Ryan, Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications, stated recently that publication of the plan will allow Ireland to walk into COP26 on November 1 “with our heads held high”. Whether we can continue to hold them skywards beyond November will be determined by what comes next.

Photo: Klair Neenan

SSE Airtricity

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