Belfast Telegraph

Industry has ‘vital role’ to play over climate action

Richard Bruton outlined the government’s aims to lower greenhouse gas emissions and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

Heather Humphreys and Richard Bruton speaking outside Dublin Castle (Cate McCurry./PA)
Heather Humphreys and Richard Bruton speaking outside Dublin Castle (Cate McCurry./PA)

By Cate McCurry, PA

Industry has a vital role to play in tackling climate disruption, Ireland’s Climate Action Minister has said.

Richard Bruton outlined the government’s aims to lower greenhouse gas emissions and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 at an industry meeting in Dublin.

Mr Bruton urged Irish enterprise to adapt to the changing world and boost their planning for climate action.

Mr Bruton and Minister for Business Heather Humphreys launched Pillar 5 of Future Jobs Ireland, a government strategy to prepare businesses and workers in their transition to a low carbon economy.

Mr Bruton described Ireland’s bid to reach its 2030 target and the target of net zero emissions by 2050 as a “very ambitious plan”.

Speaking at Dublin Castle, he said: “Enterprise will be at the very core of that, to mobilise the changes, but also enterprise needs to be aware that if they don’t make the changes now and make them early they will be competing in a global environment for which they are not prepared.

“It’s really important the message is that now is the time to make changes. There are huge opportunities for those who are early movers and this is something that will be beneficial to the country for the long term and for our international competitiveness.”

Minister Humphreys said: “What we are doing through Future Jobs Ireland is future proofing our economy, and one of the pillars is how we can transition companies to a low carbon and businesses to a low carbon economy.

“Today we have looked at different options. Of course there are challenges but I believe there are many opportunities there.

“In the bio-economy, Ireland has been leading in that space so we will work with industry through transition teams, through the regional enterprise plans, our different funds, whether it’s the disruptive technologies fund, or it’s the regional enterprise development fund, again working with all the stakeholders so that we can see and grasp the opportunities that are there.”

Meanwhile, the ministers faced questions about the controversial EU-Mercosur deal.

What's really exciting about the Mercosur deal is that it puts obligations on Brazil and these countries to meet their climate responsibilities Richard Bruton

Mr Bruton told the audience that the “exciting” deal will put Brazil and other countries under pressure to meet their climate responsibilities.

“We can’t always look at your trading partner and say – for example you could look at Poland and say ‘they still have all sorts of coal-mining going on – we shouldn’t allow Polish goods into Ireland’,” he said.

“There’s a limit in what you can do or you effectively dismantle a trade arrangement.

“But what’s really exciting about the Mercosur deal in my view is that it puts obligations on Brazil and these countries to meet their climate responsibilities.

“So it is a new form of trade agreement and it’s forcing countries who get involved to take their climate responsibilities seriously.

“This deal has to be evaluated and Ireland will make a decision in due course. But it’s absolutely wrong to say it’s not part of this agenda.”

The proposed agreement between the EU and a group of countries including Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay was reached at the end of June after 20 years of talks.

It could mean an extra 99,000 tonnes of beef, 18,000 tonnes of poultry and 25 tonnes of pork is imported from South America.

The deal has been heavily criticised by environmental groups and beef farmers, who believe it will lead to poorer quality beef flooding the EU market at the expense of Irish farmers.

Ms Humphreys said that if countries do not adhere to the Paris Agreement then the Irish government will not be doing business with them.

“For the first time ever there’s a big chapter in this agreement on sustainability,” she added.

“There’s a huge focus and again these people have to bring up their standards otherwise we won’t be doing business with them and that’s very clear.”

PA

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