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Going green is the way to our future prosperity

"Going green is the way to our future prosperity(By Mary Kelly via Independant.ie)The unprecedented crisis in global financial markets, along with the
collapse of the property market, has created major challenges for Ireland.It is now recognised that there is no quick-fix to these economic
challenges.Stabilising the economy in the short-term is clearly the priority, but
building a smart resilient economy will be the priority in the medium-term.Along with the financial crisis, Ireland, like other countries, is faced
with the twin environmental challenges of a climate-change crisis and an
eco-systems crisis.There have been many warnings based on sound scientific evidence about the
potentially catastrophic effects of climate change. A similar but less
well-recognised crisis exists in the inexorable loss of biodiversity
worldwide.We must not ignore these warnings but must design our recovery plan to
provide for a low-carbon economic recovery which respects our natural
capital and adopts a sustainable approach to the eco-system.The good news is that the greening of the economy is beginning already.The Environmental Goods and Services (EGS) sector is worth €3.6bn in
Ireland. The environmental technologies market is forecast to reach €2.3
trillion by 2020, while in the EU the sector employs 3.4 million people and
turns over €227bn annually.A joint report from Forfas and InterTrade Ireland has shown strong sector
growth in renewable energies, efficient energy use and management, waste
management, recovery and recycling, and water and waste water treatment.Meanwhile, a report for the Environmental Protection Agency published last
year shows that Ireland enjoyed the second-highest growth rate in green
industries in the EU after Finland, with a growth rate of 55pc between 1999
and 2004.The UN's Environment Programme believes that enormous economic, social and
environmental benefits will arise from combating climate change and
investing in clean technologies.The question facing leaders now is how to reinvest in the global economy --
will it be the old, extractive short-term economy, or will it be the new
green economy that deals with multiple challenges while generating multiple
opportunities?We must capitalise on the few benefits of the downturn. Emissions have
fallen and there is a possibility that if the economy shrinks further,
Ireland may even meet its Kyoto obligations. But relying on a contracting
economy to meet emissions obligations is not a strategy and more drastic
action is needed to meet our EU commitments.Not only must we cut emissions, we must make sure that they do not rise
again with economic growth.The solution is investment in the green economy and this is something that
the EPA has championed through STRIVE (Science, Technology, Research and
Innovation for the Environment), a programme that has invested €30m in
environmental technologies since 2005.The STRIVE programme has shown hundreds of businesses in Ireland that
cleaner production saves them money, at a time when people are more
conscious than ever about the need for efficiency.The downturn also brings renewed focus on the indigenous sectors of food
and tourism -- two industries that rely heavily on the domestic
environment. We must fully commit to the green economy and to the agreement
of a Green New Deal for Ireland.Our vision should be an Ireland of the future, thriving on the success of a
green, low-carbon economy, not simply because reducing our impact on the
environment is something we must do, but because green jobs, green
technologies and renewable energy innovations are recognised as the
foundations of our future prosperity.Dr Mary Kelly is director general of the Environmental Protection AgencyFor the latest in green jobs across Ireland, Europe and globally please
click here"