Climate crisis and energy needs
Sir, – Prof Patrick Devine-Wright (Letters, January 11th) presents an excellent analysis of some of the issues that must be resolved if Ireland is to respond to the clean energy challenge in a way that is urgent, democratic, legitimate, fair and leaves no-one behind.
These valid concerns, however, must not cause us to overlook the need for our response to also be effective, as that is perhaps the most critical aspect of all. This is made clear by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which includes nuclear energy, along with renewables in every effective emissions reduction pathway toward achieving its desired targets. That nuclear energy has been ignored by many who would prefer to see a world powered only by renewables is unfortunate, to put it mildly, as our climate is unlikely to be influenced by similar rhetoric.
We don’t know whether the 2030 policy of 70 per cent renewable electricity is supported by a majority of the Irish public, as we have yet to be consulted on the matter. But we do know that such a policy is inadequate, because it cannot deliver zero-emissions electricity using technology that is currently available and permitted in Ireland. Nor do we know what public opinion is towards small, modern nuclear reactors that are now becoming available and offer the potential for reliable and affordable clean energy with the lowest requirement for land, precious minerals and other resources. My experience is that Irish people are very open to the idea of suitable nuclear energy solutions when they are presented with a balanced assessment of all our energy options, and are frequently hungry for more information on this important topic.
Prof Devine-Wright’s suggestion that a citizens’ assembly be established is appropriate and, if properly constituted and informed, could consider all options that can effectively deliver a clean, reliable and affordable energy future. This would represent a significant improvement over our current energy policy that is becoming increasingly unpopular as it encroaches upon habitats, hasn’t reduced our energy bills as promised, and is not on track to supply zero-emissions electricity. – Yours, etc,