The review acknowledges the significant change and progress made in recent years – noting, for example, that Ireland now has the third highest share of wind generated electricity among all 30 IEA member countries. The review recommends, however, that concrete plans and pathways must be developed in respect of carbon emissions reductions noting that Ireland’s energy system is still heavily reliant on fossil fuels.
Minister Bruton welcomed the review and its recommendations stating: “The International Energy Agency’s review confirms that while recovery has seen some improvement in take up of renewables and in energy efficiency, Ireland has not broken the link between economic growth and prosperity and greenhouse gases. It highlights the major changes Ireland needs to make in how we heat our buildings, on how we move around and how we power our grid. The all of government plan will provide the clear targets and the policy roadmap which we need. However, the first challenge is to secure widespread buy-in across our entire community on the vital importance of the journey which we need to go on. This can only be achieved by all sections of our community working together.”
Paul Simons, IEA Deputy Executive Director, presented the report to Ireland, stating: “Ireland has become a world leader on system integration of renewables thanks in large part to strong policy and commitment to innovation. Building on this success, we advise the government to urgently implement additional climate measures and monitor their progress to get the country back on track for long-term targets.”
- Prioritise improving the transparency of, and accountability for, meeting its emissions reduction targets. This includes publishing its draft National Energy & Climate Plan, setting trajectories towards meeting renewable and energy efficiency targets including the means of achieving them, and clarifying the contribution of those targets to meeting Ireland’s emissions reduction targets under the EU Effort Sharing Regulation.
- Implement an automatic upward adjustment of the carbon tax when preset sectoral emissions targets are not met, and earmark a portion (or all) of the increased revenues for energy efficiency improvements and decarbonisation of heat in the residential sector (despite its policy not to earmark tax revenues).
- Improve the efficiency of the planning consent regime for energy infrastructure to ensure that decisions are taken on time and with due regard to environmental and other effects. The legal framework for planning permission should ensure that adequate consultation has taken place with all stakeholders and that the needs of local communities have been taken into account, before the consent decision is taken by the relevant authority.
- Develop a time-bound roadmap for decarbonising the heating sector through energy efficiency and fuel switching. The roadmap should establish clear scenarios and milestones for phasing out fossil fuels.
- Provide continuity and longer-term certainty in energy policies to avoid, or minimise, interruptions that could undermine investor confidence and the necessary investment to achieve clean energy objectives.