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Irish Independent: Greens warn all parties must unite on future policies to avert a crisis

Published: Sep 19, 2007

IRELAND needs a cross-party, united approach to renewable energy development if a future economic crisis over oil dependency is to be avoided.

Energy Minister Eamon Ryan warned a major international oil conference yesterday that Ireland’s future energy policies “cannot be party political”, if they are to succeed in the long-term.

His warning came as Lord Ron Oxburgh, the former chairman of oil-giants, Shell, stressed that the world’s love affair with — and total dependence on — the internal combustion engine needs to be reduced.

Mr Ryan stressed that all Irish interests need to work together if the energy challenge is to be met.

“We need a unified, cross-party approach to our energy needs and the requirement to wean ourselves off a total dependency on fossil fuels,” he declared.

Mr Ryan stressed that the recent scares over oil and natural gas supplies had highlighted the urgent economic choices now facing Ireland.

“Over 90pc of our energy needs are supplied by fossil fuels — and 50pc from imported oil alone,” he said.

Mr Ryan acknowledged that, if Ireland doesn’t make the correct decisions now about renewable energy sources and the investment in new energy technologies, the prediction of economist, Eddie Hobbs, could prove correct.

Mr Hobbs warned that if proper preparations were not made now, the transition away from oil as a fuel source could made the economic depression of the 1930s “look like a piece of cake”.

Mr Ryan said that while strides have been made in Ireland, more urgently needs to be done to foster renewable energy technology and to prepare Ireland for the post-oil world.

“We need people to understand that the car you purchase today is probably going to be still on the road in 2020 — and the power station you build today is still going to be operating in 2050,” he said.

Lord Oxburgh stressed that the world needs to move away from the internal combustion engine if over-dependence on oil and carbon emissions are to tackled.

“There are no silver bullet solutions to the problem of depleting oil supplies — governments across the world need to develop a range of solutions,” Lord Oxburgh explained.

More than 500 delegates are attending the 6th annual Association for the Study of Oil and Gas (ASPO) conference in Cork.

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