Irish business on climate change and the need to act

Taken from the Irish Times, 27 November 2015

“Today, more Irish companies (and Irish-based companies) are embracing the concepts of carbon reduction and energy efficiency, if not for their own peace of mind, then for that of their investors and customer base.

Accordingly, latest figures from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland show the carbon content of electricity last year fell to half its 1990 level.

“We are at a point where what we don’t have is going out of fashion and what we do have is coming into fashion,”

“Outside of governments a lot of businesses are looking at Paris in the sense that the world is changing,” says the authority’s chief executive, Dr Brian Motherway, who believes the days of companies not really engaging are over. “They know change is coming. We need policy to evolve in terms of [energy] price and incentives and disincentives so we can start to change. The call is: let’s get on with it.”

Ireland is advantageously placed as a country that exploits renewable energy and doesn’t produce fossil fuels. “We are at a point where what we don’t have is going out of fashion and what we do have is coming into fashion,” says Motherway. “Paris is going to be, in my view, a much stronger sense that things are going one way and we are getting out of fossil fuels.”

Easier and cheaper

New technologies are making energy efficiency easier and more attractive. Data handling and communications have been revolutionised and it all feeds into business. Solutions to problems are easier and cheaper.

“Five years ago if you were talking about clean energy you were probably a bit ahead of the curve. Now for any company who is looking at it strategically there is a sense of inevitability this is no longer an add-on glossy bit.

“It’s become part of the business strategy cycle. It’s about risk. It’s very much part of the boardroom conversation.”

The private sector’s response to environmental realities can be roughly divided in two parts: the corporate world pulling itself into a new frame of mind and the emergence of nascent industries capitalising on it. Of the latter, new ventures are appearing all the time. Among the recently acclaimed are Climote, which uses remote technology to control home heating.

About constructionlca

Co-author Green Guide to Specification, expert in Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), EPDs and sustainability for the construction materials sector Researching Building LCA and how we can increase uptake at the Open University. Tweets as @constructionlca
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