12-13 May 2013

Dublin Castle (view map)

Meeting of Chairpersons of Environment and Energy Committees of EU Member States and the European Parliament

Topic: Clean energy for the future

Image: Deputies John O'Mahony TD (L) and Michael McCarthy TD (R) with EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard.

European parliamentarians hear of economic imperative for supporting renewables and energy efficiency

Dublin, 13 May 2013: Members of the parliaments of EU Member States and of the European Parliament today heard how EU-wide policy to foster clean energies and promote energy efficiency can help ease the current economic and jobs crisis.

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht and the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications co-hosted this meeting of Chairpersons of Environment and Energy Committees of EU Member States and the European Parliament.

Cathaoirleach (Chair) of the Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht Michael McCarthy TD says: “The afternoon session heard from Connie Hedegaard, EU Commissioner for Climate Action, who said that the European Union is facing three distinct crises - the economy, jobs and climate - each of which required immediate attention. With €1 billion per day leaving the European Union on oil imports, Commissioner Hedegaard argued that policy which helps divert this money flow towards more environmentally friendly options had the potential to create jobs and stimulate the economy.

"Dr Brian Motherway of the Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland, said that energy efficient measures were the cheapest form of carbon reduction. He highlighted the benefits of retrofitting buildings, which encourage investment in the local economy through labour and technology that might otherwise be spent on oil imports. The session also heard John McCarthy of the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government outline the work of the Irish Presidency in supporting greater coordination and consensus among Member States as the complex international negotiations progress.

“Earlier in the day, we devoted a session to policy to enhance air quality. Astrid Schomaker of the European Commission reminded delegates that 2013 is the European Year of Air and outlined a series of new proposals are expected this year to improve air quality across Europe. Laura Burke, Director General of the Irish Environmental Protection Agency, said that surveys indicate 3 in 5 Europeans do not feel sufficiently informed about air quality. Ms Burke spoke on how her agency uses web based platforms to keep the public informed on air pollution and how it impacts on health and well-being.”

View John McCarthy's speech Dr Motherway's presentation and Ms Burke's presentation.

Vice-Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications, John O’Mahony TD, who chaired the opening session of the conference says: “The opening session heard EU Commissioner for Energy, Günther Oettinger urge delegates to work pragmatically to achieving common ground on achieving a coherent common energy policy. The Commissioner noted that reductions in carbon emissions were being led by the energy production sector, with transport and agriculture lagging behind. We also heard Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte TD, say that energy is at the heart of economic growth. He argued that renewable energy was the only long-term solution to the energy problem, and noted that this provided Ireland with a real opportunity to develop new markets for renewable resources, offering growth and job creation opportunities.”

View the Minister's speech.

The event was the sixth in a series of eight meetings being hosted by the Houses of the Oireachtas during the six month Presidency. Watch entire conference via this YouTube playlist. Access photos via the Oireachtas Flickr account. View videos of Deputies McCarthy and O'Mahony reflecting on the sessions:

For further information please contact:
Paul Hand,
P: +353 1 618 4484
M: +353 87 694 9926
E: paul.hand@oireachtas.ie

Cáit Hayes,
Tel: +353 1 6183883
Mob: +353 87 9190300
E: cait.hayes@oireachtas.i


Welcome from Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on the Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht, Michael McCarthy TD