Declaring that the Green Party is “the antidote to populism”, Eamon Ryan on Saturday night delivered a defence of his party’s record in Government, set a target to win 10 per cent of the vote at the 2024 local and European elections and pledged to bring forward targets for renewable energy.
Mr Ryan used his televised address at the Green Party’s annual conference in Athlone to signal that the Government would bring forward solar power targets by five years, promising to reach the target 5,000MW of capacity by 2025 instead of the existing target of 2030.
“What that means is that by 2025 there will be sunny afternoons when we are generating enough solar electricity to power the entire country,” Mr Ryan said.
“Just think about it, when the Green Party joined Government in 2020, the country was powered by gas on those warm summer days. By the time we finish in office, we will be powered by the sun.”
Officials said the details of the plan would be provided in the revised climate action plan to be published in the coming weeks.
In an upbeat speech, the Green leader and Minister for Transport listed the party’s achievements in Government since 2020, focusing on what he said were the achievements of each of the Green Ministers in turn in arts and culture, integration, forestry, agriculture and other areas.
“That’s what you get with the Greens in Government,” he said. “Real positive change.”
Though he avoided singling out any Opposition parties by name, Mr Ryan criticised opponents for populism, short-termism and a failure to spell out real alternatives to climate action. He said the Greens were not afraid to take “a short-term hit”.
“Some politicians play off people’s fears for the future to foment uncertainty and division,” he said. “They promote simplistic and divisive solutions to complex problems. Their false political promises will only fall apart when they come in contact with the real world.”
“You don’t solve difficult issues with populist rhetoric, you do it with hard work and honest negotiation. You do it by putting the country’s long-term interest first, even if you might have to take a short-term hit,” he said.
Looking forward to the 2024 European and local elections, Mr Ryan said he wanted to see the Green vote rise to 10 per cent (up from 7 per cent in 2020).
“I am setting a goal tonight that one in 10 Irish people will vote for this green future in those next elections,” he said.
“Such a result would bring in 100 Green councillors, a new generation ready to serve both our people and the planet. I am confident that one in 10 will cast their vote for the interests of the next generation. For their grandchild, niece or nephew, son or daughter, or child next door. This is not a time for staying on the bench or sitting on the fence. We are in the fight of our lives and we are all in it together.”