Today, 900 public sector representatives shared their experience and future strategies to meet ambitious 2030 energy targets. The online annual Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) public sector energy conference focused on how leadership in the public sector is working towards decarbonisation.
The Government’s Climate Action Plan sets an ambitious 2030 vision for the public sector to halve energy related emissions and for all public buildings to be B-rated by that year.
Welcoming delegates to the online event, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamonn Ryan TD said:
“The public sector has shown remarkable capacity and commitment in tackling the challenge of Covid 19. We now need to show the same leadership when it comes to climate action. The Climate Bill and the Climate Action Plan 2021 will set out ambitious targets and a clear path for delivery for the rest of the decade that we can all get behind.
The sector has made significant progress in improving its energy efficiency, reducing costs, and increasing its contribution to our national and EU energy and climate targets. For example, NUIG which has undertaken significant work in retrofitting a number of its building stock. Works included 300 fluorescent fittings to LEDs, installation of 28 heat pumps in various buildings all of which has achieved combined savings of 219,000 kWh per year. There are further examples like this all across the public sector.
But we need to do more, and show good example, including speeding up practical and visible measures such as EV procurement and retrofitting more of our public buildings. I look forward to many more innovative actions as we seize the opportunity to create a greener, more sustainable future.”
Speaking at the conference today, William Walsh, CEO of SEAI said:
“The transformation required to address climate change will reach every aspect of our society, including our critical public services. The theme of today’s conference is Decarbonising the Public Sector. This simply means continuing to provide our public services, while reducing the energy emissions associated with them.
The public sector can show what can be achieved to other sectors, create better buildings, transport systems, and reduce energy costs and related emissions. The public sector energy conference is a key event to collaborate, learn and share our experience and challenges as we address this fundamental task.”
The keynote speaker at the conference was Dr Tara Shine, who told delegates that:
“Change starts from within, it is personal. When we are clear on why living more sustainably is important to us as individuals, we are better placed to use our influence to engage and inspire others. Transforming our society to reduce emissions will reap benefits in terms of health, wellbeing, jobs, and a more connected and equitable society. It is an opportunity to be seized and not a hardship to be endured. As leaders in the public sector your influence on society is powerful. Working together you can be a positive force for change.”
Conference delegates discussed decarbonising buildings and transport, engaging people in the journey and strategic planning to secure the necessary supports. Evidence from SEAI shows, again and again, that key to achieving energy targets is sustained senior management leadership, adequate resources, and continuous investment. The latest data from SEAI shows that over half of public sector organisations had achieved, or were on track to achieve, their 2021 energy targets.