Limerick council faces tough decisions on climate change

Growing levels of carbon emissions

LIMERICK local authorities will have to take tough decisions to reduce carbon emissions because no practical steps have yet been taken towards meeting Ireland’s greenhouse gas targets for 2020.

The warning was delivered by Cllr John Gilligan (Ind) after a presentation on climate change was given to the council’s environment committee by Pat Stephens, Manager of the Limerick/Clare Energy Agency.

Councillors were told that part of the strategy to reduce emissions will be to develop a replacement for the fossil fuel burning at Moneypoint Power station on the Shannon Estuary.

Mr Stephens confirmed that one company has plans to test an off-shore wave power machine in the Shannon estuary.

He said the Government agreed to limit surface temperature increase to two degrees or less as part of the Paris agreement on climate change, as well as targeting major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Referring to national mitigation plan measures, Mr Stephens said: there will be “a renewable electricity support scheme, which will supply incentives and supports for people who generate energy from renewable resources. Community generation will be included when it is published.

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“There will be a renewable heat incentive scheme to cover all technologies, with incentives for biofuels and eco driving.

He added that there is a public consultation process open on the Adaptation Framework Plan which closes to submissions this Friday.
“It includes the role for local authorities to mainstream climate change adaptation measures and plans,” he told the meeting.

A deadline for local authorities having a local adaption plan in place has yet to be announced but it is expected to be next year, he said.

Cllr Gilligan said: “Everything should start locally. What exactly are we doing about the environment? So far we’ve been doing absolutely nothing.

We should be able to make a decision that by 2020, Limerick city will be carbon neutral. It can be done. We have been told that if we had a couple of wind turbines on the waterfront it would produce al the lighting needed in Limerick. Wind energy is cheap.

“Wind energy and water energy are going to be huge and we have them on our doorstep. In two months time, we should have a cost benefit analysis of what we can do, otherwise we are not doing our job”.

Cllr Eddie Ryan Ryan (FF) said Limerick as a county was making it hard for people to adapt to wind energy, with the provision of turbines considerably delayed because of the planning process.

“We are anti-wind energy in this county and council. We have wind blowing 24/7. One these windmills can power 3,000 houses yet we have no policy around wind energy,” he declared.

Mr Stephens told the meeting that the Energy agency has produced a plan for the energy requirements of Limerick and how they can be provided for.

“Limerick was once quite strong in renewable energy skills network, in upskiling people for renewable energy. The funding for that has ceased but there might be a case to revisit it

“Limerick City and County Council was one of the first in Ireland to install photovoltaics  (solar panels) in its buildings (solar panels) producing about 20 per cent of this building’s energy.

After hearing that there are advancements with a company testing a quarter scale model wave energy machine in the Shannon Estuary, Cllr Gilligan suggested that the council request a presentation on the project from the team involved.