A report from the Irish Corporate Leaders on Climate Change says opportunities exist in wind energy, buildings, electrification, smart grid, green financing and agriculture, but that goverment leadership is needed.
It says a reluctance to tackle the issue is based on assumptions that the cost is too high, between 0.7pc and 1.6pc of GDP.
However, it says that spending should be considered an investment in a low-carbon future, which will help create jobs.
The report, to be launched today by Tanaiste Joan Burton, says that costs are determined by how governments act and what strategies are put in place.
“The solution is often smart and targeted policy intervention, and willingness to trial and refine approaches,” according to the report, ‘Unlocking Opportunity – the case for taking climate action in Ireland’.
“A national strategy which leverages economic strengths and competitive advantages across sectors is a necessary first step. We must think about maximising Ireland’s benefit, not just minimising cost.”
The group consists of Bord Gais, Bord na Mona, Siemens, Diageo Ireland, NTR, Sodexo and Vodafone.
Compiled by Joseph Curtin from the Institute of International and European Affairs, it says that more attention has to be paid to the benefits of tackling global warming. A change in policy and action is needed both to meet the scale of the threat posed by climate change, and to grasp the business opportunities created by moving to a low carbon economy
“Our first objective is to challenge the predominant narrative on climate change. We do not believe that the benefits of responding to climate change have received equal attention to the costs.
“This predominant focus on costs is belied by the experiences of many of the most climate-ambitious countries and companies.”
The report comes as world leaders prepare to gather in New York next week for a UN summit on climate change.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny will attend amid concerns that rapid decarbonisation is required to cut greenhouse gas emissions from energy, transport, agriculture and the residential sectors.
The International Energy Agency says to keep temperature rises within 2C, seen as a tipping point, investment in clean energy will have to double by 2020, with $36 trillion to be spent by 2050.
While there is “significant potential” for export growth in the cleantech sector, the report says that domestic deployment must come first. Countries that export cleantech have built their successes on deploying technologies at home,
Among the key benefits identified include job creation, driving competitiveness and innovation, energy security, boosting tax revenues and regional development.
“These benefits and opportunities are sometimes neglected in the debate on climate action, which has tended to focus exclusively on cost,” it says.
“The assumption that decarbonisation must cost is just that – an assumption. There is a need to rebalance the narrative around decarbonisation, both in policy circles and in society.
“We must think about maximising Ireland’s benefit, not just minimising cost. In this way Ireland can carve out a niche in a rapidly changing world, and ensure Ireland’s economic vibrancy.”
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