“…we, in the name of the Republic, declare the right of every citizen to an adequate share of the Nation’s labour.”
~ Democratic Programme of the First Dáil 1919
The Rising Price of Energy
The international energy market operates on a simple supply and demand basis. When there is an excess of demand prices rise and when there is an excess of supply prices fall. Whilst the last ten years have witnessed dramatic swings in energy prices the underlying trend has been steadily upwards, with average oil prices in the second half of the decade being virtually double that of the first half. Irish consumers of oil, gas, petrol and diesel have seen the prices of these commodities double over the same time period. And this upward trend is set to continue as the global demand for energy rockets ahead of supply.
It is likely that this supply and demand problem would be resolved over time if there were unlimited reserves of oil and gas on the planet, which of course there are not. Known reserves of easily recoverable oil and gas are slowly running out, which in turn is causing long-term upward pressure on prices. Estimates for how long these reserves will last vary hugely, from anywhere between forty and a hundred or more years. Whatever the precise timescales, most experts agree that the days of ‘cheap’ hydrocarbon-based energy are over for good.
For any state that imports a high percentage of its energy requirements the prospect of ever-increasing energy prices represents a serious threat to both the economy and the general population. The twenty-six counties currently imports in excess of 85% of its energy requirements. To compound the problem Ireland is at the tail-end of the European gas network and is thus more vulnerable to interruption of supply to Europe, as happened in the winter of 2006 when Russia stopped supplying gas to the Ukraine.
The issue of security of energy supply is one that requires long-term planning and vision, something that has been sadly lacking from successive Dublin governments. éirígí believes that any oil and gas reserves discovered in Ireland, either onshore or offshore, should be used to secure Ireland’s energy requirements over the coming years.
In addition éirígí believes that the wealth generated from these reserves should be used in two ways. A portion of the money should go to the provision of essential services such as schools, hospitals and roads with the remainder being invested in the development of renewable energy technology so that our reliance on hydro-carbons can be significantly reduce.