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Sustainable Development and Other Environmental Issues Affecting Industry

Work of the Competitiveness and Climate Change Unit | Role of the Competitiveness and Climate Change Unit | Climate Change

Introduction

As well as processing EU Environmental Legislation which may impact on industry, as outlined below, the Competitiveness and Climate Change Unit also deals with general and domestic environmental issues relating to industry. These are varied and diverse and include: promotion of environmental technologies and processes in Irish industry, sustainable development, waste and recycling issues, and issues relating to industrial emissions to air and water. We take part in several cross Departmental/ Agency groups, formed to consider specific environmental issues.

The following are some of the initiatives dealt with by the Competitiveness and Climate Change Unit:

Energy Related Products

The Ecodesign Requiremenst for Energy Related Products Directive establishes a framework for the setting of eco-design requirements for energy-related products. It aims to improve the environmental performance of products throughout the life-cycle (raw material selection and use; manufacturing; packaging, transport and distribution; installation and maintenance; use; and end-of-life), by systematic integration of environmental aspects at a very early stage in the product design. Energy-realted Products account for a large proportion of consumption of energy and other natural resources in the Community and have high potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

For further information on energy related products please follow this link.

Phasing out of incandescent lightbulbs

Under EU Regulation (EC) No 244/2009 with regard to ecodesign requirements for non-directional household lamps (lightbulbs), inefficient incandescent lightbulbs will be phased out throughout Europe with effect from the 1st September 2009 and will be replaced by more energy efficient alternatives such as halogen lamps and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). This Regulation was agreed by Member States in December 2008.

For further information on the phasing out of lightbulbs please follow this link

Environmental Technology

What is Environmental Technology?

“Environmentally sound technologies protect the environment, are less polluting, use all resources in a more sustainable manner, recycle more of their wastes and products, and handle residual wastes in a more acceptable manner than the technologies for which they were substitutes. Environmentally sound technologies in the context of pollution are process and product technologies that generate low or no waste, for the prevention of pollution. They also cover end of the pipe technologies for treatment of pollution after it has been generated. Environmentally sound technologies are not just individual technologies, but total systems which include know-how, procedures, goods and services, and equipment as well as organisational and managerial procedures.”
UN Commission on Sustainable Development  - Agenda 21 (Chapter 34)

Environmentally-friendly technologies can be found all around us.  Examples are biofuels, solar panels, wind turbines, recycling systems for waste or water, etc and include any technology that is designed to prevent or reduce the environmental impact of any stage of the life cycle of products and activities.   Promotion of new programmes that foster the development and take-up of new cost-effective and innovative environmental technologies offers opportunities that are good for business, reduce pressure on the environment, and can create new quality jobs.

Environmental Technology Action Plan

The EU Environmental Technology Action Plan (ETAP) was adopted by the European Commission in January 2004 and covers a spectrum of actions to promote eco-innovation and the take-up of environmental technologies.

It includes priority actions along several lines including; promoting research and development, mobilising funds, helping to drive demand and improving market conditions.

For further information on ETAP at EU level, please follow this link

The Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment represents Ireland on the Commission’s ETAP High Level Working Group along with officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

For further information on ETAP at national level, please follow this link

Enterprise Ireland's Environment Information Website

This unit has part funded an e-business initiative by Enterprise Ireland to establish an environmental information website www.envirocentre.ie. This is aimed at assisting Irish businesses to understand environmental issues and to help them be more profitable and increase competitiveness through improved environmental performance. The website provides a wide range of information on environmental issues affecting business.

EU Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)

This Directive imposes significant obligations on producers and distributors to ensure that a significant quantity of waste electrical and electronic equipment is recovered and recycled. It introduces a ban on the use of certain hazardous substances in such equipment. This Department worked closely with industry interests during the negotiations and significant amendments were made to the original proposals.

Final Text of directive WEEE (PDF, 88k)

Final Text of directive RoHS (PDF, 31k)

For further information on WEEE at national level please follow this link.

Environmental Liability

The Environmental Liability Directive aims to establish a framework for dealing with damage to biodiversity, water and land contamination and aims to ensure that a polluter causing damage to the environment has to pay to remedy the damage caused.

This Department worked to ensure that this legislation would not represent an excessive burden on Irish industry. On the crucial issue of compulsory insurance, which was a major concern of industry and on which this Department argued for exclusion, the final text has excluded it so there is no obligation for business to have such insurance. A review will be carried out in 2010 to look further at this issue.

For further information on Environmental Liability at national level please follow this link

Sustainable Development

"Sustainable Development" itself represents a form of development that seeks to integrate economic, environmental and social dimensions in a balanced way. From the Department's perspective, sustainable development is about finding more environmentally and socially responsible and sustainable ways of doing business, both within the Department itself and for enterprises in Ireland.

The first Sustainable Development Strategy for the Department was published in December 2002. Four priority strategic areas were selected for focus over a three-year period (2003 - 2005) and these were:

  • Climate Change.
  • Competitive Sustainability.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility.
  • Departmental Sustainability.

For further information, or to request a copy of the Strategy, please see the Sustainable Development Strategy page

Last modified: 11/05/2011

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Contact the Competitiveness and Climate Change Unit

Fax: 01 6312801

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Location

23 Kildare St., Dublin 2.

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