Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 8 May 2014
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications
EU Energy Policy: European Commission
I thank Mr. Mamer and Mr. Claridge and I welcome them before the committee. In reviewing the current targets to 2020, how much of an improvement has come about as a result of the slower economic activity throughout the European Union, as well as technological advances? I refer particularly to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, more renewable energy use and energy efficiency. How is better technology helping this issue? Do the witnesses have an opinion on the cost of investments? Is there a good return on investments in those areas?
With regard to the strategy to 2030, binding targets have been set to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and non-binding objectives have been set for renewable energy. That places Ireland at somewhat of a disadvantage, particularly when considering the effect of binding targets for greenhouse gas emissions in the agricultural sector. That sector will have the greatest difficulty in trying to achieve targets of reductions of up to 20%. In other countries in the European Union, a greater proportion of greenhouse gas emissions may emanate from energy and transport, and they can be dealt with more easily through greater use of technology and investment from Horizon 2020 European funding, for example. In agriculture it would not be that easy to achieve that target. Is there any conflict between the EU Commissioner for Energy and the Commissioner responsible for agriculture in this respect?
The figure of €1 billion per day has been mentioned for the importing of energy to the European Union, and Ireland would be at the top of the list of importing countries because it is vulnerable to shocks. We require greater investment in renewables, energy efficiency and a reduction in emissions. Ireland will be one of the more difficult countries in which to achieve those goals.