Ireland set to join the Powering Past Coal Alliance

Published by Niall Sargent on

March 12th, 2017

Ireland is set to join the Powering Past Coal Alliance four months after receiving an invitation from the international alliance working to accelerate the phase-out of coal.

The decision was announced today in Toronto by the Minister for Climate Action, Denis Naughten, TD, during his visit to Canada, one of the original members of the Alliance.

Minister Naughten is visiting Canada as part of the Government’s St. Patrick’s Day 2018 international programme promoting Ireland abroad.

Made up of over 50 nations, states and businesses, the Powering Past Coal Alliance was launched at the COP23 conference in Bonn, Germany last November.

Within the first month of its launch, over 50 partners joined the Alliance, with the likes of Sweden, Latvia, the state of California and Marks and Spencer joining more recently.

Ministers Denis Naughten and Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna meeting in Toronto Photo: DCCAE

Ministers Denis Naughten and Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna meeting in Toronto Photo: DCCAE

Both the Canadian Department of Environment and Climate Change and its UK counterpart, the other original Alliance member, contacted the Minister’s department (DCCAE) about joining the Alliance last year.

In November 2017, The Green News sent on Access to Information on the Environment (AIE) request to the department for any correspondence with the Canadian or UK governments about the Alliance.

The request also sought access to internal DCCAE correspondence and the agenda and minutes of any departmental meetings at which the Alliance was discussed.

The request, however, was refused on the grounds that the information sought “does not fall within the definition of environmental information” as set out in AIE regulations.

A subsequent internal review requested by The Green News was unsuccessful, with the department again refusing to release the documents on the same grounds as the initial request.

Irish Commitment

Under the National Development Plan 2018-2027, the Irish State has committed to stop the burning of coal at Moneypoint by 2025.

This builds on commitments in the Government White Paper on Energy Policy and the Programme for Partnership Government to identify suitable low-carbon technology for Moneypoint.

According to Minister Naughten, this will mark the end of the role of coal in Irish power generation and align Irish policy with the objectives of the Alliance.

“Ireland is demonstrating our support for the transition away from coal power to the international community,” he added. “We are joining with Canada, the UK, and the other members of the Alliance in encouraging others to accelerate the elimination of coal power.”

Moneypoint Power Station - nocturne in blue and gold

Moneypoint Power Station Photo: Tiger

Moneypoint Power Station

It is estimated that more than 800,000 people die each year as a result of pollution generated by burning coal, which currently generates around forty per cent of the world’s electricity.

Moneypoint power station in Co Clare is the only remaining coal-fired powered station in the Republic of Ireland, importing and burning around two million tonnes of coal a year from as far afield as Colombia.

It remains one of Ireland’s largest power stations with an output of over 900MW, accounting for around a fifth of Ireland’s total electricity needs.

The ESB is currently studying options to reduce the carbon intensity at its power stations in Moneypoint, Lanesborough, and Shannonbridge, including the potential for the use of biomass in place of coal and peat.

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Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London