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Leaders at the One Ocean Summit in France PA

Reaching 80% renewable target depends on 'offshore wind technologies', Taoiseach tells summit

Micheál Martin joined other leaders at the One Ocean summit in France this morning.

REACHING IRELAND’S TARGET for generating 80% of electricity from renewable sources will depend on developing “offshore wind technologies”, the Taoiseach told an international ocean summit today.

A group of world leaders met in Brest on France’s Atlantic coast this morning for a three-day One Ocean summit.

Discussions focused on how to protect oceans from threats such as overfishing and plastic pollution, as well as the links between oceans and climate change.

Speaking at the summit, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that “right now Ireland consumes electricity that’s up to 43% generated by renewables”.

“Our target to 2030 is to get to 80% and that will be dependent on the offshore wind technologies from now to then,” the Taoiseach said.

The 2021 Climate Action Plan increased the target for the proportion of electricity that must come from renewable sources by the end of the decade.

A target set two years previously for 70% of electricity to be generated from renewable sources was raised to “up to 80%” by 2030.  

“We have moved quickly to create a new legislative framework around a streamlined permitting system in terms of consents and so forth. That legislation has passed,” he said.

“We’re creating a new regulatory agency to govern the development of offshore wind and renewables, five gigawatts to 2030 but excessively beyond that then for post-2030 so that we get into a stage where we will be exporting energy.

“We are developing interconnection, we will soon have interconnection with France and with Wales and we see that as our future to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.”

He alluded to recent discussions on how the growing tensions between Russia and Ukraine highlight much of Europe’s dependence on Russia for gas.

Though Ireland does not rely on Russia for gas, a disruption elsewhere in the EU could raise prices here.

“If we look at the geopolitical situation at the moment, part of our vulnerability, and certainly from an Irish perspective, is our dependence on imported fossil fuels,” Martin said.

“Our way out of that dependence is the development of offshore wind,” he said, adding “green hydrogen and greater storage capacity as well”.

So we see the sea as offering us key solutions to deal with the wider challenge, of course, of climate change.”

Oceans cover more than 70% of the planet’s surface. 

In his opening speech, French President Emmanuel Macron said that “today, we are going to make commitments” and that he was “convinced they are going to help strengthen helpful actions”.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was among in-person attendees at the event, along with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, which is set to host the COP27 climate summit in November.

US special envoy for climate John Kerry and several other African and European leaders attended the event in person, while others participated through video messages.

Kerry said “the urgency of the plight within which we all find ourselves” deserves attention.

He said there are “large-scale, extraordinary operations that go on every single day at sea that are indistinguishable from major criminal enterprises on land”.

“They use appalling practices of labour, money laundering and fraud to destroy the good efforts of fisher people around the world who are trying to live by the rules.”

In a joint statement today, the US and France recognised “the transboundary aspects of plastic pollution and the importance of curbing it at its source”.

The statement said the countries support launching negotiations at the upcoming UN Environment Assembly to reach a global agreement addressing the issue.

With reporting by PA

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