2023 Green Awards
Updated: Feb 23
I was delighted to be invited to speak at last evening's Green Awards ceremony, 2023. I believe it was the biggest yet.
It was wonderful to see Laois and Offaly enterprises were well represented as both finalists and category winners:
- Green Small Organisation of the Year (winner)
CJ Sheeran Limited
- The Green Manufacturer Award (finalist)
- The Sustainable Energy Achievement Award (finalist)
- The Excellence in Waste Management Award (finalist)
Ballykilcavan Farm and Brewery
- Green Micro Enterprise of the Year (finalist)
Refillz Zero Waste Limited
- Green Micro Enterprise of the Year (winner)
You will find my speech here: It always important to acknowledge those who are doing things well; and to give us a chance to spend some time in a social setting with likeminded people from whom we can learn, expand our network, encounter new ideas - and, dare I say challenge us to do things even better for the year ahead. You are all here tonight because your businesses are is recognised for their work in addressing what is THE biggest social, environmental and economic challenge of our time - climate change and biodiversity loss. This is the 15th year of the Green Awards and we have seen such a massive shift in focus in that time. Over the past 15 years we have seen biodiversity and climate concern move from the realm of the few, to a mainstream issue that we all deal with now in our daily lives.
It has been a journey from the low hanging fruit of energy efficiency in existing buildings to a renewable energy transformation, the decarbonisation of last km delivery, exceed certification, and much more - some of which your businesses are dealing with right now. As human beings we often struggle with change, and especially change at the pace that is currently required by the urgency of the challenges facing us.
Irish singer songwriter Wallis Bird has a great anthem 'What's wrong with Changing?' and when I hear it I think 'Great song' but I also answer her in my head that there's nothing wrong with changing. But we are asking people to move faster than they have ever moved before. The pace of change required to avert the worst consequences of the climate crisis can be uncomfortable for many.
But it does offer very exciting opportunities.
The Climate Action Plan 2023 implements the carbon budgets and sectoral emissions ceilings and sets a roadmap for taking decisive action to halve our emissions by 2030 and reach net zero no later than 2050. Your businesses are moving faster in this space than you have ever moved before. That is why you are all here tonight, and I commend and thank you for your leadership. And although we in government have spent much of the last two and a half years enshrining our Climate Action Plan into law, I know that for people in this room - your efforts towards sustainability are more than a legal obligation - you recognise and are responding to customer and employee appetite.
It is also worth remembering that businesses who remain at the cutting edge of sustainability often reap an advantage in the marketplace. I have always believed in the carrot approach because if we are relying on the stick, metaphorically at least, we are losing. I really cannot understate the scale of the challenge facing us: I say it a lot, sometimes I bore myself, but time is not on our side. We need disruptive technologies and outside the box thinking - and we need it fast. I see that all around this room. I am a passionate believer in what this Government is doing to support business - legislating for Climate Action, supporting renewable and community energy, funding research and development - including in food waste, bioeconomy, and disruptive technologies, legislating for a circular economy, for waste reduction, and implementing policies in sustainable public procurement policy, and in the skills to meet industry need of the future. We have your backs. If we are missing something - tell us your needs. We are here to listen and to do our best to support you. Thank you and enjoy your night.