Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action

Examination of the Third Report of the Citizens' Assembly (Resumed)

12:00 pm

Lord Deben:

The Deputy is right that the decarbonisation of electricity has, in some senses, overshadowed the flatlining in other areas. Transport will be significantly changed by decarbonisation of electricity because electric vehicles will become more sensible as non-carbon fuel is used. We are pressing the British Government to move much faster on that front. The Government has a policy which will not meet the requirements. We are not going fast enough and that change will have to happen. I have no doubt that will be made to happen because there is certainly not going to be any move to net zero, which we are now working on, without it. That is one of the areas we have to speed up significantly.

I also agree that we will have to work together because, of all things, energy is a northern European issue. It is not just a matter between Ireland and the UK. It is much wider than that. I hope Ireland continues to stick to its guns about what are the UK's responsibilities towards Ireland. For the UK to walk away as if it has no responsibilities is both historically wrong and morally unacceptable. A bit of continued pressure is going to be important. I certainly think we have to keep the relationships because that is the only way in which both parts of these islands will be able to operate. It would be ridiculous if it were otherwise.

We in the UK depend significantly on the energy we get from France. It is very helpful at different peak moments and it is not just a question of bringing the energy over. France has a different peak system from ours. We are, as the Deputy is aware, hoping to have a link with Norway, which would be very important. There is a great deal to be done in getting the continental European links to be more effective. Ireland could play a major part in that. I do not know how accurate this is, but there is an estimate that there is a saving of 11% to be achieved by getting interconnectors between, for example, Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as Belgium and France and France and Spain. Frankly, we ought to be using the sunshine in Spain and the wind in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It is mad that we are not doing that but the links are not good enough yet. I agree entirely that is what we should be doing.