Greening the economy on the Island of Ireland

Dr John Barry, Queen’s University Belfast

NUI Maynooth/NIRSA, 3rd Floor, John Hume Building, North Campus 16:00 :: 4th March 2009

Ireland as an island community is uniquely vulnerable to ecological change, especially those around energy security and the transition to a low carbon economy and dealing with the effects of climate change. Ireland has the third highest oil consumption per capita in the EU, arising from its use in transport and electricity generation. The Republic of Ireland's much vaunted status as the most globalised economy in the world, which in the Celtic Tiger years was to bring much wealth and prosperity (however badly distributed), has also, in terms of energy, left it extremely exposed to the vicissitudes of geopolitical events in energy supplier countries such as Russia and Iraq. The Republic has also witnessed almost two years of the Green Party in coalition government, and the restoration of the devolved Assembly in Northern Ireland, and therefore the potential beginnings of a new chapter in all-island politics. However, just as the post-conflict dispensation was beginning to bed down in Northern Ireland, heralding a new era in North-South relations, this fragile all-island political dynamic is faced with major energy, climate and economic downturns. This paper will seek to explore the issues, dynamics, opportunities and obstacles influencing the political, economic and cultural dimensions of the transition towards a green, sustainable economy on the island of Ireland. What are the outlines of a putative 'Green New Deal' for the island of Ireland? Can a Green New Deal offer a way forward from the 'triple crunch' of climate crisis, the credit crunch and energy insecurity?

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