Green shoots emerge with IFSC jobs initiative

IN HIS dying days as Taoiseach Brian Cowen raised the prospect of 7,0000 new green-based jobs sprouting up in the IFSC within five years.

This is good news in the current dark environment and hopefully these jobs will be delivered on.

To ensure this happens the Government has pledged €6.8 million in seed funding.

That demonstration of public-sector support for the IFSC points to the growing value of green financial services to the economy.

It is anticipated that substantial private-sector investment will also roll in behind this initiative once the ground rules have been established.

For the purpose of clarification, green finance refers to capital investment, banking and treasury business to support the development and promotion of a low-carbon economy.

Those categories of investment are already well represented in the IFSC and account for 12,000 of the 33,000 jobs trading under its banner.

The initiative covers the funding of renewable energy generation, energy efficiency measures and carbon credits trading.

In a wider context it embraces environmental aspects such as waste, water and weather.

The figures bandied about for the value of this emerging sector are impressive to say the least.

Financial Services Ireland (FSI), the IBEC-affiliate representing financial services companies, said the emerging strategy will help to develop Ireland into a world-class centre for green finance and enterprise.

By 2020 global carbon trading volumes are expected to reach $1 trillion and the move announced by the Taoiseach Mr Cowen should give Ireland the ability to take full advantage of the commercial opportunities that will emerge as the global drive to cut carbon emissions intensifies.

However, a note of caution should be sounded when it comes to the green enterprise, which is currently being heralded in some quarters as the saviour of the human race and the new driver of corporate profits for the next 100 years.

History teaches us that we need to be careful about jumping on economic bandwagons and this hugely hyped sector of the global economy could have the capacity to result in misguided investment in projects that are deemed to have eco-friendly credentials.

But caution aside, from an Irish perspective the initiative just announced is most welcome.

It represents a further endorsement of the IFSC and is a timely reminder that this country has had vision in the past, vision that will continue to serve our economy into the 21st century.

Even on the home front, a number of important initiatives are gaining traction while some Irish-based firms have successfully taken their quest for renewables overseas — such as NTR now involved in major ethanol initiatives in the US.

Just recently Bord Gáis Energy (BGE) announced it is to invest up to €2 million in the Irish tidal renewable energy company, OpenHydro, to develop a large-scale tidal farm off the coast of Ireland.

OpenHydro is involved in the design and manufacture of marine turbines for generating renewable energy from tidal streams.

To date it has raised €15.4 million over the past 12 months from existing shareholders and new investors to support ongoing development in this field.

With a bit of luck, we can manage to nail down a few global-winning energy solutions while enticing the global financiers into the IFSC. And at the same time the economic outlook could start to pick up significantly and perhaps give us a lucrative share in this evolving market.

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