Climate Emergency Makes a Low Carbon Economy Priority

May 10, 2019

Pauline Lowe, Policy & Research Executive at Chambers Ireland, outlines how Chambers Ireland’s local & European election manifestos are focusing on facilitating businesses to adapt to a low carbon economy 

This has been an eventful week for climate action, which is set to rapidly change policy across all sectors in Ireland and abroad. Last night, the decision was made, by both the Government and the opposition parties after an amendment to a parliamentary climate action report, to declare a climate emergency in Ireland. This followed, the UN’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), report launched on Monday on the state of biodiversity on Earth. These recent events reflects the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment of how the earth is warming and increases in temperature puts countries at risk of drought, floods and extreme heat. All the reports and warning signs point to one thing, that climate change is no longer a distant threat, but a visible reality.

This year, Chambers Ireland launched manifestos, for the upcoming 2019 Local and European Elections. Both manifestos place a large focus on the business transition to a low carbon economy and encouraging a Green Energy Economy.

As 90% of energy in Ireland is still sourced from fossil fuels and the potential of renewables is yet to be fulfilled, we are on course to missing our European Union (EU) targets by a significant margin. To reduce emissions, a multi-stakeholder effort from business communities to citizens and institutions will be required. If we are expected to reduce emissions, adapt circular supply chain practices and consumer goods, how will businesses particularly SMEs with limited resources, transition successfully? To facilitate this change, a framework is required to support businesses to transform their operations and invest in low carbon products and services for future growth.

We believe that the appointed Commissioners and European Parliament candidates going forward should work together with Chambers of Commerce to ensure that the transition to a more sustainable business model is achieved in a way that is achievable for business. A sustainable low carbon circular economy is the future, but in order to get there, we must ensure that a balanced, competitive, SME friendly approach is at the heart of regulatory changes at the European level.

A similar logic applies when encouraging a Green Energy Economy at local levels. Creating sustainable towns and low emission cities has become a policy priority across the Chamber network. With carbon taxes likely to increase significantly each year between now and 2030, the costs of operating traditional forms of high emission heating and transport will become quite high and less affordable.

Therefore, it is important that candidates going forward in the upcoming Local elections facilitate the development of sustainable and low carbon local energy economies so that these much-needed developments in areas such as housing and transport can occur. In both the European and local elections, we hope that candidates will strive for these aforementioned initiatives and ensure that businesses, communities and citizens can successfully transition to a low carbon economy.

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