Local leadership on the green economy can create thousands of Limerick jobs

James Nix, the candidate on the city’s north side for the Green Party, has encouraged Limerick businesses to apply for an EU fund worth €30 million, aimed at helping small businesses involved in green technologies and services to bring their products to the market. The €30 million fund is part of the Eco-innovation initiative, to support organisations that have developed an environmental product, service, management practice or process which has a proven track record, yet is not fully marketed due to residual risks.

“Limerick really needs this sort of funding, and it really needs these kinds of jobs. The funding is there, and the innovative small businesses are here in Limerick. The missing piece bringing the two together and I will make it my business as an elected representative to link both,” said Nix. “The Eco-innovation initiative is intended to overcome those barriers to further market penetration and turn these products and processes into Europe’s future eco-innovation successes. Applications from SMEs are particularly encouraged. “Tackling unemployment locally: this is exactly what we need political leadership for”, according to James.

Small and medium enterprises who wish to make an application for Eco-innovation funds should go to the relevant part of the European Commission website or contact James Nix directly for further information. James Nix highlighted the new EU fund saying the new city council must position itself to harness the green economy. This is an expanding sector, vital to securing new employment, he said. The question is how to translate opportunity to local employment.

Ireland’s west coast can be the Saudi Arabia of wind, with scope for 10,000 jobs in this sector by 2020, according to James. In Spain, 35,000 are already employed in the wind energy sector while Germany has created 64,000 jobs in this area, even though both countries have much poorer wind speeds than the west coast of Ireland. Danish figures show that 22 new jobs are created for each new megawatt of renewable energy.

The European wind map indicates how Limerick is ideally positioned to serve the wind energy sector. Located between counties Clare and Kerry, which have some of the best wind resources in Europe, Limerick’s location is ideal to service this expanding sector. Green energy projects provide opportunities at every stage of development from initial research through to manufacturing, construction, operation and maintenance.

There is now a need for political leadership to turn potential into reality. A green voice will help Limerick secure new employment in this sector. Turning to another area of the green economy, home insulation, the green party candidate said: “I have already canvassed at least 100 homes that have already used – or will use – the national Home Energy Saving Scheme. Nationally, the sector is worth 9 billion and is creating 2,000 jobs. One Irish company, Durkan Homes, recently announced 150 new jobs, and, under plans spearheaded by the ESB, over 3,000 jobs will be created by 2013 in areas such as smart metering, helping to cut energy costs for families. There are many examples of what can be done to harness the green economy. The town of Gussing in Austria has established 50 new companies in less than 20 years, producing energy from sustainable resources. The electricity and heat produced is supplied to local business, industry and private homes.

Preparing the path for the green economy is vital, according to James. Green jobs help protect the environment in sustainable ways for our children and grandchildren, while supporting our quality of life into the future. We should take a leaf out of Barack Obama’s book. The US will invest $150 billion over 10 years in the green economy, helping to create five million new jobs, slow down the use of resources and safeguard the environment. There is every reason to embrace this approach.