Irish Business Leaders Give Green Light To State Procurement Policy Change

Tens of thousands of jobs could be created by green public buying

A new coalition of Irish business leaders has issued an open letter urging the government to leverage the State’s €17bn annual procurement spend to develop the green economy.

The CEO’s and managing directors of companies including Siemens Ireland, Airtricity, Ecocem, Glen Dimplex and Bord Gais have signed up to ‘Green for Growth,’ a coalition calling for the state to commit to buying greener goods and services to keep Ireland competitive domestically and internationally.

Other signatories include the chief executives and managing directors of Greenstar, Kingspan Renewables, Arup, Pierse Group, Durkan Homes, Wavebob, Gypsum Industries and Isover Ireland.

Coalition spokesperson Jeff Colley claims that tens of thousands of jobs could be created in Ireland if the state adopted a comprehensive green procurement policy: “If the government is serious about job creation and economic recovery, it has to get serious about stimulating green business,” he said. “The €17bn annual state procurement spend, as outlined in the Department of Finance’s submission to An Bord Snip, must be leveraged to develop a world-class market for green products and services in order to assist our economic recovery.”

The call to action by the Green for Growth coalition comes one week before the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government hosts the National Conference on Green Public Procurement, which coincides with the launch of the public consultation on green public procurement guidelines. The policy driving this is the renewed Programme for Government agreed in September 2009 pledges to “put in place new public procurement procedures and guidelines to ensure that green criteria are at the centre of all state procurement.”

Colley, the editor of Construct Ireland magazine and 2010 Green Leader award winner, said that the Irish economy would suffer further if the state failed to keep pace with the greening of procurement policies in Europe and beyond.

“The stakes are tremendously high,” he said. “Countries across the EU and North America are getting ambitious about buying green, so Irish businesses need to upskill quickly in order to compete successfully both at home and in the international markets for green goods and services. If we  fail now to implement a robust green procurement policy we run the risk of being one of the least enabled greentech economies,  and will forever be reliant on buying in products and expertise from abroad – continuing to haemorrhage money on imports when we should be making money on exports.”

Members of the Green for Growth coalition said they strongly welcomed the proposed initiative to be taken by the government to develop a green public procurement policy.  They warned, however, that the policy must be robust and ambitious in order to:

Ensure that Ireland develops the skills, services and products that we need to compete domestically and in export markets, thereby generating new greentech jobs in manufacturing and services. A robust green procurement policy will ensure the upskilling of Irish companies to sell goods and services into the EU, North America and many other markets where green procurement is already much further advanced than our own.

Make the Irish economy more resilient and cost-effective, by taking the initiative and forcing reductions in unnecessary consumption of energy, water, mineral and other resources, whilst simultaneously reducing CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, reducing water pollution and protecting eco-systems.

Make Ireland more attractive in terms of inward investment, by reducing the cost of doing business here and reducing the risk of volatility in the supply and cost of energy, water and other resources along with waste disposal and pollution costs. A company’s environmental performance is now a key concern for shareholders therefore a greener Ireland is a more investable Ireland.

Reduce the financial burden on the tax payer and consumer, because green procurement is cost-effective procurement. Investments in energy efficiencies, renewable energy and recycled materials can deliver a dividend every year for decades in the form of reduced energy costs, and reduced carbon levies and taxes.

Promote the highest standards in green design that will cut unnecessary consumption and over-specification. The use of green and recycled materials will achieve significant reductions in the energy and environmental costs associated with manufacturing, processing and transportation of materials, particularly in the construction industry.

Put Ireland forward as a positive exemplar of sustainable development for the rest of the world, showing that economic recovery and environmental protection are mutually dependent in a world faced with unprecedented resource depletion, pollution and climate change.

“In order to achieve these benefits it is essential that the government delivers truly ambitious and robust green procurement requirements across the public sector. Such requirements must be bold enough to significantly move the market to develop and produce world-class green products and services.  If government ambition on the green economy is to be realised, the public sector, with its annual €17 billion purse, must now take the lead and generate the environment in which Irish businesses will be rewarded for green innovation”, concluded Colley.

Members of the ‘Green for Growth’ coalition signed the open letter at a press conference in The Alexander Hotel, Merrion Square, Dublin 2 today.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

You must be logged in to post a comment.