OUR cities must develop sustainable energy production and highly skilled workforces if the country is to succeed in achieving an economic recovery, the 6th Annual Environment Ireland Conference was told yesterday.
The event, the country’s largest gathering of delegates concerned with environmental policy and management, heard that while Ireland was until recently positioned within the top seven European countries in terms of wealth, Dublin was far down the table, in 21st position, in the “green index” of European cities.
Siemens Ireland spokesman Domhnall Carroll outlined where Dublin scored on a number of environmental indicators. The city did best in relation to air quality and Mr Carroll said this was related to policy decisions in the 1980s to change to unleaded petrol and smokeless coal.
Head of macro-economics institute for business value IBM Consantin Gurdgiev said: “Cities, as focal points for economic growth and activity, are best positioned to benefit from the rising importance of talent and innovation. However, they are facing intensifying competition for talent and innovation as demand for higher quality and more diversified workers is increasing.”
He said the focus most now be on developing our cities as technological and learning hubs.
Northern Ireland Department of the Environment official Leo O’Reilly said their aim was to increase the amount of electricity and heat from renewable sources to 40% and 10% respectively in 2020.
Earlier Environment Minister John Gormley addressed the conference on the priorities for his department in the coming years.
On the issue of the planned Poolbeg incinerator he said that it was most important that accurate figures on the amount of waste being collected by municipal authorities that were to provide refuse for the facility be compiled.
He added that it would be a serious matter if the amount of waste that would be available was under the 300,000 tonnes that was to be provided to the facility according the contract entered into with the private company constructing the facility.
He said: “Now is an opportunity for this country to forge ahead on waste management”, suggesting that “BMT — mechanical biological treatment — should be at the fore”.
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