Energy and Climate Change Summit: Implications of COP 21 for energy sector
09 February 2016
A major energy and climate change summit, organised with the support of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, is due to take place on February 23, 2016, will be an important year for energy and climate policy, both in Ireland and internationally.
With the new energy White Paper, the government has set out the future of energy policy with a view to 2030 and beyond. In the global context, the COP 21 climate talks have concluded now and agreement has been reached to limit the global temperature increase to 2.0°C with an ambition towards achieving 1.5°C. All of this will have major implications for the energy sector in Ireland and will raise questions for industry executives, policy-makers and regulators.
Climate policy will have a direct impact on the future energy mix, after a period of focus on more economic issues. This renewed focus comes at a time of uncertainty with electricity market redesign, a new renewable energy support mechanism and global economic uncertainty.
The summit will examine key policy energy and climate change policy in 2016. An expert speaker panel will include representatives from leading Irish energy and environment organisations. The summit will analyse Ireland’s emissions inventory with Laura Burke, director general of the Environmental Protection Agency, asking where we stand in terms of measuring Ireland’s emissions. William Walsh, acting chief executive officer of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, will discuss renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Decarbonisation of Irish energy industry
The decarbonisation of the Irish energy industry is an important theme of the summit and its economic impact will be a topic of discussion. Brian Carroll, assistant secretary, Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, will discuss meeting the current challenges presented by decarbonisation.
Peter O’Shea, head of regulatory affairs and corporate strategy at ESB, will assess how to decarbonise the energy industry. John FitzGerald, chair of the National Expert Advisory Council of Climate Change, will look at moving towards a decarbonisation strategy. Reconfiguring Ireland’s energy mix for a carbon constrained future will be presented by Garrett Blaney, chair of the Commission for Energy Regulation.
The conference will also hear from Marie Donnelly, director of new and renewable sources of energy, energy efficiency and innovation within DG Energy at European Commission, who will provide a European perspective with regards to meeting 2030 targets. Holger Gassner, head of strategy and regulatory affairs at RWE Innogy, is to provide another European viewpoint as he looks at the impact of the climate goals on the energy sector.
Visiting speakers Pierre Mongrué, French Embassy in Ireland, and Dermot Rhatigan, Scottish Government, will discuss their respective countries’ climate and energy ambitions, providing the conference with insight to how other countries are tackling climate challenges. Friends of the Earth will contribute an important NGO viewpoint on climate and the implications of COP 21 on the energy sector.
The COP 21 agreement confirmed the target of keeping the rise in temperature below 2°C and established, for the first time, that we should be aiming for 1.5°C, to protect island states which are the most threatened by the rise in sea levels.
Global warming still set to be between 2.7°C and 3.0°C and therefore above threshold laid down by scientists
While 186 countries have already published their climate action plans, initial evaluations show that, even with these measures in place, global warming would still be between 2.7°C and 3.0°C and therefore above the threshold set by scientists. The Paris agreement therefore asks all countries to review these contributions every five years from 2020 – emissions should peak as soon as possible and the countries will aim to achieve carbon neutrality in the second half of this century.
As a developed country, with a growing economy, Ireland will experience significant impacts as a result of the Paris Agreement. The move towards net carbon neutrality will mean major changes in every greenhouse gas emitting sector, particularly energy.
While Ireland is, in many regards, leading the way in terms of renewables, this has largely been focused on electricity (which comprises only 20 per cent of energy use) with much less progress having been made in the areas of renewable heat and transport. This represents a major challenge for Ireland’s energy sector going forward – as we look towards carbon neutrality beyond 2050, solutions will need to be found to move away from the most polluting fossil fuels towards a cleaner, low carbon energy future.
This major summit will examine the scale of this challenge and explore the potential solutions – all of Ireland’s major energy players will be in attendance and delegates will hear directly from those at the forefront of this important policy area.
If you would like any further information on the Energy and Climate Change Summit, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01 661 3755.