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Ireland’s natural resources vital to in fight to slash emissions

Harnessing Ireland’s offshore wind and wave energy is vital to help the country to slash its carbon emissions by 2020, a new parliamentary committee has said.

The Dail’s Committee on Climate Change, which was established a year ago,


said Irish people now produce the fifth highest levels of greenhouse gas in the world in per capita terms. The EU wants Ireland to reduce carbon emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 and also harness 20 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by the same date.

Committee chairman Sean Barrett called for the development of wind and wave energy projects in Ireland’s offshore area, which covers 900,000 square kilometres of sea bed or ten times the land area of the country. He said the current planning regime for such projects was several decades out of date. “If we are to exploit offshore wind and harness the power of waves and tides, we must replace outdated structures with a modern system for dealing with marine developments,” Mr Barrett said.

In Northern Ireland, a Unionist MP has criticised a cross-border call for Ireland to remain a “nuclear-free zone”. Sammy Wilson said that true environmentalists should support nuclear power.

The Democratic Unionist MP was responding to a joint protest by SDLP Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie and John Gormley, the Green Party leader and Irish Environment Minister, who have criticised UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s plans for a new generation of nuclear power in Britain.

They are also opposed to any plans to introduce nuclear power to Ireland.

Mr Wilson said: “Anybody who is genuinely concerned about the environment must look at the usage of nuclear power because it is one of the serious ways of reducing Co2 emissions while at the same time ensuring an adequate supply of energy.”