Launch of the 2017 SEAI Energy Show
Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten TD
April 5th 2017,
Good morning ladies and gentlemen.
I am very pleased to launch the 2017 SEAI Energy Show here at the RDS. This event is a critically important one in the energy calendar. Ireland relies on high emission, imported fossil fuels to meet over 88% of our energy needs. This costs us around €4.6 billion. This is €4.6 billion that flows out of the country every year. It is imperative that we reduce this bill, not just for ourselves and our children but so Ireland plays its part in addressing climate change.
For you here at the energy show this €4.6 billion is a massive opportunity. If this money is instead invested in energy efficiency and smarter energy services it will displace imported fossil fuels with local jobs and opportunities for Irish companies. If we take these opportunities Ireland can become a world leader in tackling climate change.
There is no place better to learn about these opportunities than here at the energy show. I understand last year's conference generated €86 million worth of new business and that even more exhibitors and visitors are attending this year. It will be a real showcase for Irish ingenuity and expertise on energy and I look forward to visiting some of the stands shortly.
The economy, our climate, the communications networks that link us together and support our jobs, enhance our quality of life and underline the viability of our communities are priorities that were chosen by this government from the get-go. They are connected not stand alone responsibilities. They are part of a wider programme across government to pool resources in ways that will make a measurable difference for a sustainable environment and for self-sufficient, connected communities.
The challenges we have are clear, and they are many. What is less clearly developed are the economic opportunities in terms of jobs and investment for a country that is better connected in an information age and where the scarce and valuable commodity of energy is conserved, in smarter, more fuel efficient homes and businesses.
It is the task of politics, it is the task I intend to apply myself to, to bridge the chasm between global challenge and national responsibility, and between Ireland's obligation and every single citizen's responsibility. It may be a tired truism that you can't change the world. On climate change, it is a pressing fact that the world will not change without you.
Therefore I am delighted today to announce the launch of a brand new multi-annual energy efficiency scheme. I have secured €5m in grant funding that will be ring-fenced for people who want to bring their home up to an A on the Building Energy Rating scale. This funding will also support Ireland's transition from fossil fuels to renewable heating technologies.There will be no grants for fossil fuel based systems under this scheme, rather we want to invest in the heating technologies of the future.
The €5m scheme will be administered by SEAI and will make funds available on a rolling basis to community groups, to Local Authorities and to Energy Agencies. It is available to any group that can pull together groups of people who want to make this leap and invest in a major energy efficiency improvement to their home. Under the scheme an individual homeowner will be able to get up to half of the cost of their energy efficiency upgrade supported by the SEAI. Full logistical details on the new scheme is published on the SEAI's website.
Earlier this month I published Ireland's National Climate Mitigation Plan and announced the National Dialogue on Climate Action. As well as creating awareness around the need for climate action, I want to make sure our plans are accessible to all, that people, young and old, can feed into the thinking behind what the best options are. This is because I believe that Government needs to talk with as many people as possible on every aspect of climate action whether it be energy efficiency or how we best deal with rising sea levels.
It is through this dialogue that we will convince people of the urgency of climate change and it is through this dialogue that we will be able to develop policies that are people-led and therefore effective at delivering the change we need. With billions of people, each doing the little they can, led by fewer than two hundred governments, I am convinced we can succeed in preserving the planet.
There can sometimes be a clamour for flashy, Government imposed, silver bullet solutions that offer grandiose promises and vague visions as a solution to Ireland's climate challenge. But as I approach one year in my post as the Minister responsible for facing our climate challenge what I have become convinced of is that there is no one silver bullet solution. And indeed why should we expect there to be?
People in this country live in a wide variety of homes, they live across a broad swath of locations and they live in very different circumstances be they homeowners or renters, be they young or old. We need to develop a range of solutions that will work for everyone. To do this we need evidence based pilot schemes that can prove what really works in Ireland as opposed to what we might like to work.
Let's not kid ourselves, climate policy is not risk free nor can it be achieved without certain sacrifices. If we get policies wrong they can impose excess costs on ourselves and future generations and worse again, failed policies can cause people to switch-off and lose interest in the climate challenge. Nothing could be more damaging.
I truly believe that as we move towards a country that is better connected in an information age and where the scarce and valuable commodity of energy is conserved, in smarter, more fuel efficient homes and businesses we can bridge the gap between global challenge and national responsibility.
Enjoy the show.
Thank you very much.