Ibec – Building a Competitive Low Carbon Economy

Building a low carbon economy

A roadmap for a sustainable Ireland in 2050

The recovery in the Irish economy in the last few years has been remarkable. Economic growth is now boosting households and businesses right across the country as the labour market moves towards full employment. This recovery, however, has come at an environmental cost. Greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 5% since 2013 and we are now significantly off track in meeting Ireland’s international climate obligations. Ireland must take decisive action to decouple emissions and economic growth and build the foundations of a sustainable, competitive low carbon economy.

The scale of this challenge can be daunting. It will require substantial public and private investment, the deployment of new technologies and big changes in everyday human behaviour. More fundamentally, it demands a complete rethink in how we grow our economy and plan future development. System-wide changes are now required for the low carbon era.

There will be risks along with opportunities. However, our proposals constitute “no regrets” measures and make sense in any scenario. Poor decisions could significantly increase energy costs; harm energy security; and erode Ireland’s international competitiveness. Policy design that is suboptimal could see efficient and sustainable Irish businesses lose market share to international competitors with inferior environmental credentials and higher carbon footprints. By focusing on cost-effective solutions and evidence-based policies, these trade-offs can be avoided.

Irish business fully supports the transition to a low carbon economy. This report is part of a wider Ibec campaign called Better Lives, Better Business which aims to make Ireland a better place to live and work. It sets out an Ibec vision for what a low carbon economy could look like in the year 2050 and a roadmap for Ireland to pursue this ambition that also safeguards our energy security and competitiveness.

Ibec calls on Government to follow through on the recommendations in this report, support private investment and make 2019 a breakthrough year for climate-smart economic development.