Tuesday, 3 July 2018
Establishment of Special Joint Committee on Climate Action: Motion
The Labour Party welcomes the establishment of the select committee. I look forward to being a member of it. I wish to address briefly the potential for carbon capture and storage. I understand a feasibility study is under way in that regard. I ask the Minister to indicate where Ireland stands in regard to the potential for carbon capture and storage. I specifically put that on the agenda because it should be discussed within the remit of the committee.
I understand the European Union is looking for large-scale carbon capture and storage, CCS, projects, for which significant funding is available. That represents a potentially good opportunity for Ireland and will help to decarbonise electricity generation on our island. It could act as a potential for further foreign direct investment into Ireland on the basis that many multinational companies are now considering opportunities for decarbonisation and we have to be practical and pragmatic about those opportunities if they come before us. Could the Minister, in his response, give us some indication as to where stands the feasibility study on carbon capture and storage? I tabled a specific parliamentary question to him on that issue. I met Ervia yesterday, which is very interested in this space. As we know, Ervia is our own company. It has a big interest in this area and it is something on which we should engage with it.
I share the sentiments of other speakers. We have a massive opportunity on this island to send a message globally on meeting targets and realising opportunities. We are a small, innovative island and the networks created as between industry and academia in terms of scientific research and the person to person and business to business networks probably allows for people to come together more easily than in other parts of the European Union. That represents an opportunity for us.
I am hopeful we could also have regard to the work of Science Foundation Ireland on the previous investment by the taxpayer in the marine renewable energy space. When I was Minister of State with responsibility for research and innovation, we launched the MaREI centre in Cork. There was a significant investment by the taxpayer in the area of marine renewable energy. We need to kick the tyres, so to speak, in terms of where that entity currently stands. It is one of the few entities looking specifically at marine renewable energy and as an island nation, and an Atlantic nation, we have to start leveraging more opportunities to make greater investments to ensure our energy mix moves further into the renewable space. I believe the marine renewable sector represents a major opportunity in that regard.
I look forward to working as part of the committee. I am hopeful it will not be just a talking shop. As a Parliament we have an opportunity through this committee, working collaboratively across parties, to try to make some serious changes in the direction this island goes in its responsibilities regarding climate change. We are all green now. Nobody has ownership of green issues. There are existential issues facing us now, as well as future generations, and we all need to collaborate politically in that space for action.