E10: ‘It is the silver bullet in the battle to reduce GHG emissions’

One of the attractions of ethanol is that it can be produced from either grain or sugar beet – the latter being eminently suitable to Irish conditions. Without the increased use of E10 there is no quick fix to hand – short of banning cars and trucks from the roads for defined periods.

This is according to Brendan Halligan, founder and president of the Institute of International and European Affairs, in the forward of a new report – launched recently by chief economist Jim Power – entitled: ‘The Role of Ethanol in Ireland’s Climate Action Programme’.

The report was commissioned by Ethanol Europe which is focused on a new awareness campaign that concentrates on the utilisation of ethanol production as a climate solution.

‘An utterly compelling case’

Meanwhile, Halligan said the case for E10 is “utterly compelling” and pointed to how it has become a mystery as to why it has not been accepted and acted upon with the urgency that the situation demands.

Ethanol can be produced from either grain or sugar beet – a crop with which I am personally familiar with as I began my professional career as an economist with the Irish Sugar Company.

He continued: “That experience brought home the tangible economic benefits of vertical integration which can be replicated by the production of ethanol from locally grown grain and sugar beet.

“It is a rare example of the win-win solution so beloved of governments; the mystery is why it has not been embraced.

“Economic spin-off, however attractive, is of course a subsidiary argument to the main proposition that we need to cut emissions immediately while long-term solutions are phased in.”

‘Mystery and adventure’

Halligan went on then to point out that while the economic argument was “a substantial one in its own right”, it should carry weight with decision-makers eager to revive the Sugar Company model “which was so strongly supported by Seán Lemass”.

There’s a prize there for the adventurous – what remains true is that without the increased use of E10 there is no quick fix to hand, short of banning cars and trucks from the roads for defined periods.

He continued: “Put in these terms, the case for E10 is utterly compelling and the mystery is why it has not been accepted and acted upon with the urgency the situation demands.

The report quite wisely does not venture into speculation as to why there has been inaction at official level.

“The present failure to act on E10 would, indeed, appear to be an example of what the Oireachtas had in mind and the root cause of its evident frustration at the lack of progress in areas where progress seems eminently realisable.

“It’s not too often that policy-makers are presented with a silver bullet – as in the case of E10 – and it should be employed without further ado because it will have an immediate beneficial effect on GHG emissions.

“For that reason alone, Jim Power’s report is to be welcomed and he should be commended. It is an invaluable contribution to the national debate on climate action. And it should be acted upon without delay.”

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