Climate change, the citizen and society

 

Sir, – The Citizens’ Assembly is deliberating the topic of “How the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change”. One of the most interesting parts of last week’s dialogue was where citizens sought more leadership and action from Government. The message to our Government was the need to look at the complete climate puzzle and understand the interactions between technologies and societal groups. Change is required across our whole system, including our consumers, infrastructures, technologies, regulations, markets and businesses. Our transition requires investment in new infrastructure, establishment of new markets and the adjustment of consumer and business practices and preferences. Economists can focus on technology price and performance improvements, while our industry coalitions and civil society can frame their experiences and benefits of sustainable energy.

As a society we need to connect the pieces of the decarbonisation puzzle. Our new renewable technologies, such as wind, solar PV and bioenergy, need to be complemented with contemporary technologies, such as battery storage, smarter flexible grids, local network infrastructure developments and demand response measures, including smart metering rollouts. But technology alone will not bring Ireland to the required levels of decarbonisation. The role of the citizen is crucial.

Consumer acceptance, new industry business models, private-sector green finance, efficient supply chains, workforce skills and our own communities’ beliefs, practices and decisions are all required to accelerate the transition. Business collaboration with Government can drive innovation policy through R&D and demonstration, enabling new technology adaption incentives and tariffs for technology deployment.

The Citizens’ Assembly will meet again in November. This is a unique opportunity for civil society to engage, connect and align individual and collective responsibilities. – Yours, etc,

Dr MATTHEW KENNEDY,

International Energy

Research Centre,

Tyndall National Institute,

Cork.