26 Sep 2007
ASPO 6. In Praise of… #4. Eamon Ryan.
**Eamon Ryan** is a Green TD, and now Ireland’s Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. I first met him in 2005 when he came to speak at the Fuelling the Future conference in Kinsale. At that stage the Greens were just a small opposition party, and Eamon, already on board with peak oil having attended ASPO 4 in Lisbon, gave a compelling presentation about Ireland’s energy options. Two years later, having also attended ASPO 5, following a Fianna Fail’s failure to win an overall majority, the Greens are now in a coalition government, and Eamon is Energy Minister.
At the end of ASPO 6, Eamon gave a speech which I thought was electrifying. He has evolved into a great statesman, and must be, I think, the first European energy minister to use the word ‘powerdown’ in a speech. He spoke of the need to make energy security a central policy aim, and stressed that energy resilience and the building of a renewable energy infrastructure need not be a grind and an imposition, rather that it should be seen as an opportunity to put Ireland at the forefront of sustainability.
He told the history of Ireland, from the founding of the republic, talking about how Eamon DeValera laid the foundation stone of Cork City Hall, where the conference took place, and that perhaps the ASPO conference could be seen as laying the foundation of Ireland’s preparation for a post-peak future. Ireland has had an extraordinary recent history, building a booming economy in a short period of time, and Eamon spoke of how the Celtic Tiger was one huge step in the evolution of the country, and the journey away from oil will be the next.
I was very impressed with his talk, and with his overall vision. To have a government energy minister who is not only peak oil literate, but up with and enthusiastic about Transition Initiatives and powerdown is quite something, especially compared to Malcolm Wicks, the UK’s energy minister whose peak-oil-dodging nonsense was so ruthlessly exposed in David Strahan’s book ‘The Last Oil Shock’. I have never been around many politicians who can hold a hall so well, who speak from passion and conviction; I was reminded the presence of Collins and DeValeras, perhaps in the same way that they were so pivotal in Ireland’s transition from a colonial outpost to a Republic with self-belief, perhaps he will be the politician that will help Ireland through the energy transition with the kind of political leadership such a transition will so desperately require.