Ireland’s Minister for Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton and Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) CEO David Connolly launched the campaign on billboards and bus shelters across Ireland highlighting the role that wind power is playing in cutting carbon emissions.
IWEA said the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland recently reported that in 2017 wind energy was responsible for avoiding 2.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
Connolly said wind energy provided just under a third of Irish electricity last year as the number of wind farms grew but it was still not enough and Ireland “must do better”.
Ireland is expected to achieve a feeble 1-per-cent reduction on its 2005 emission levels by 2020, instead of its target of 20 per cent, and is due to miss European Union targets for renewable energy generation.
It is estimated Ireland could be fined as much as €600 million a year by the European Commission for missing the targets.
In December the Environmental Protection Agency announced that a 21-per-cent increase in electricity generated by wind in 2017 was primarily responsible for a fall in carbon dioxide emissions in the energy sector.
The growth of wind energy meant the carbon dioxide emissions intensity of electricity generation – the amount of carbon emitted per unit of energy produced – was now at its lowest level on record, the IWEA estimated.
But Ireland was ranked last year as the worst-performing country in Europe for taking action on climate change for the second year in a row.
Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in 2018 admitted that Ireland was “falling way behind” in tackling climate change, and described the Emerald Isle as a “laggard”. He did, however, praise Irish achievements with recycling.
Varadkar’s administration has been trying to shake the association of environmental neglect.
Bruton said the Irish target for renewable energy production would be raised to 70 per cent by 2030.
He also said the Dublin government was “committed to taking the lead on climate action”.
“We must step up our response to climate disruption. We have a very short window of opportunity in which to take action,” the environment minister added. “We want to build a competitive renewable energy sector, including a competitive offshore [wind] sector, so that customers get value for money as we can reach our 2030 targets.”
Ireland is due to issue a climate plan, which Bruton said was in its “final stages”, detailing policies each government body must adopt.
Ireland is blessed with copious amounts of wind. Picture credit: Wikimedia