Q&A with Eamon Ryan

Eamon Ryan
Green Party TD and Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources



How many environmentalists does it take to change a lightbulb?
Two, if they have Cabinet backing…

When and how did you become interested in green issues?
In 1979 when I took a special ecology class in school.

What is the most pressing environmental issue for you?
Climate change and the peak in global oil production.

What efforts do you make in your daily life to practice sustainability?
I try to remind myself that ‘less is more'.

As Minister, what will be your contribution to energy sustainability in Ireland?
A three per cent reduction in our CO2 emissions every year, as per the Programme for Government.

Do you fly if you take foreign holidays?
With four small children I prefer to holiday in Ireland.

Does your car run on bio-fuel?

Will you continue to cycle to work in winter?
Yes. It can only be drier than our last summer.

Is Dublin a good city for cycling?
Dublin is the best city in the world for cycling, if only we can make it safe again.

Is the energy debate in Ireland a mature one?
It's only beginning.

How do you think Irish people's environmental awareness compares with other European countries?
We're not at European level yet, but getting there.

Do Green Party members feel an affinity with other Green parties around the world?
Definitely – green issues are global ones. We are closely connected with the European Greens and its 35 members. The Green Parties of Finland and Germany have been particularly helpful sharing their experience of government with us.

If you were building a house, what energy producing or saving methods would you use?
The most important element is proper insulation from the start. Failure to do this is the energy equivalent of running a bath with the plug out.

What is the most successful example you have seen of sustainable energy use in a home?
Quentin Gargan (a Green colleague from West Cork) has a straw-bale house and it's as cosy as can be.

Do you have a favourite green gadget?
A solar-powered laptop is supposed to be close to market. When they hit the shops I want one.

How many environmentalists does it take to change a lightbulb?
Two, if they have Cabinet backing…

What successes have Irish governments had on environment issues to date?
The greatest success has been the introduction and widespread use of Green Bins. Attitudes to recycling changed when they appeared. People saw how easy it was once they started.

If you had complete control over governmental energy policy what changes would you make?
If I were Taoiseach, I would put far greater resources into our public transport system.

When will we reach the climate change tipping point?
According to people I respect, such as James Lovelock, we may already be there.

Do you worry about bio-fuel production taking up too much land?
Yes I do. Better planning leading to shorter distances travelled is the only way forward.

Which green advocate puts the ‘mental' into environmentalist?
The one who focuses on “list” in journalist and “air” in questionnaire.