Climate Coalition publishes priorities for proposed Energy Security Review

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Climate Coalition publishes priorities for proposed Energy Security Review

Next Government must ensure Review addresses Ireland’s climate obligations

March 22 2020, 08:00am

Ireland’s largest climate coalition, Stop Climate Chaos, has published a Terms of Reference outlining what they believe must be addressed by the next Government in the energy security review promised by the outgoing Government in late 2019. 

The review into the security and sustainability of Ireland’s energy supply was announced in late 2019, by the Minister with responsibility for Climate Action, Richard Bruton following public outcry over the Shannon LNG project. Many environmental organisations expressed a concern that the Review, as announced, was established to justify the Government’s support for the LNG terminal. The Irish Government confirmed support for the fracked gas import facility in Shannon without a sustainability or climate assessment of the project. The project has also been challenged in the High Court which referred the case to the European Court of Justice. The Minister stated before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action last December that independent consultants would be appointed following a public procurement exercise and that the full terms of reference for the technical analysis underpinning the review would be finalised in early 2020. Due to the General Election earlier this year, it is unclear what stage this procurement process has reached.

In the absence of a transparent process by which this Review will be conducted that facilitates public engagement, Stop Climate Chaos commissioned an independent external expert to draw up a Terms of Reference that sets out five key priority objectives that the Review must address. The Review must:

  1. Undertake an impartial and transparent assessment of Ireland’s energy security and sustainability through an appointed independent steering group, drawing on relevant technical analysis and public consultation.
  2. Examine and make recommendations on how Ireland as an isolated grid with declining indigenous fossil fuel resources achieve full decarbonisation by 2050 at the latest while remaining energy secure.
  3. Examine and make recommendations regarding the additional renewable energy resources, energy storage, distribution and interconnection infrastructure that will be required to ensure Ireland is energy secure as we move towards 100% renewable electricity, and decarbonisation of all other sectors.
  4. Examine and make recommendations on how to manage a phase-out of natural gas in order to avoid stranded assets while ensuring security of gas supply and preventing further carbon lock-in along with supply disruption.
  5. Examine the primary risks and challenges for Ireland’s energy security and sustainability in the short, medium and long-term and how relevant state actors should respond accordingly.

In light of the direction this Review is likely to give to climate and energy policy and investment over the coming decade, the Coalition has called on the next Government to progress with commissioning the Review, and to ensure that it sets out exactly what role there will be for fossil fuels in Ireland’s energy mix as we transition to a zero carbon future before 2050.

Sadhbh O’Neill, policy advisor with the Stop Climate Chaos, commented, 

“As we begin a decade in which global emissions must decrease by half if the 1.5°C limit set out in the Paris Agreement is to remain viable, there is no scientific justification for  investment in new fossil fuel infrastructure. This Review should set the energy and climate agenda for Ireland for the coming decades, as we transition to a zero carbon future. It needs to show how we can decarbonise our economy whilst keeping the lights on, by ensuring sufficient interconnection and energy storage infrastructure.”

“It is imperative that the Review must be carried out in a truly independent manner, based on evidence and best practice. It is also essential that the Review addresses the twin priorities of achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, whilst maximising the sustainability of Ireland’s energy system to ensure that ‘the lights stay on’. We need to see a review which will seek to fully maximise energy efficiency and renewable energy, interconnection, battery storage and smart technologies.”

 

The Coalition also called for a public consultation process to feed into the review process. Ms. O’Neill emphasised, 

“We are also calling for a broad public consultation on the Review, with a reasonable period of time allowed for interested stakeholders to provide feedback, given the importance of the Terms of Reference in guiding the whole Review process.”

“Once finalised, the Terms of Reference, the body assigned with conducting the review, and the methodology should be made public on the Department of Climate Action website.”

 

ENDS

Notes to Editors: 

  1. The published Terms of Reference for the Energy Security and Sustainability Review is available here. A detailed background analysis document to guide the Terms of Reference is available here
  2. Stop Climate Chaos  is the civil society coalition campaigning for Ireland to do its fair share to tackle climate change. The Coalition’s members include overseas aid and development, environmental, youth and faith-based organisations.