Taoiseach stresses economic challenges of climate change


An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen TD - along with Ministers from the Cabinet Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security - met with a number of stakeholders from the public, private and voluntary sectors in the Climate Change Leadership Forum.

The Government convened the event to allow for an exchange of views on the challenges that are facing Ireland in moving towards the proposed EU 2020 greenhouse gas emission targets.

Speaking at the Forum, which he chaired, the Taoiseach said - “We have to begin the transition to a low-carbon economy and start changing how we create and use energy. I invited the leaders in different areas of Irish society today, because the changes involved will be profound and will impact significantly on the structure of the economy. No sector, organisation or individual will be immune.”

He emphasised that Ireland needs to identify the most cost-effective measures for meeting our targets and that “this requires engagement and rational debate by all stakeholders as we identify and adopt solutions.”

The Taoiseach highlighted the fact that climate change is one of the great challenges for our generation and stated that Ireland now has to position itself in terms of a transition to the type of low-carbon future which an effective global response to climate change requires.

The Minister for Finance echoed the Taoiseach’s comments and emphasised the need for measures to be taken in a sensible and cost effective way. Minister Lenihan said - “In the current economic climate, it will be hard to convince people of the need for action. However, we need to reinforce the message that climate change policy can be consistent with good economics if it encourages energy efficiency and reduces our dependence on expensive and finite fossil fuels.”

The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, John Gormley TD, highlighted the opportunities that will arise for business. He said - “Our economic success over the last two decades was built on innovation, creativity and flexibility. Do we now harness those same characteristics, be proactive, seek to lead the transition to a low-carbon economy and benefit from the advantage of being an early mover? I am convinced that our future must lie in pursuing the opportunities - not struggling with the challenges.”

The Taoiseach also used the occasion to invite stakeholders to continue the dialogue over the coming months as the Government begins to identify the most economic policy options to allow Ireland make the required transition.

He stressed “the importance of us working together if we are to ensure that Ireland successfully makes the transition to a low carbon economy and improve our energy security.”