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War – What is it good for?

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Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong wrote the song War (What is it good for) in 1969, Edwin Starr performed the vocalis and it went to No.1 in 1970. While the meaning could be construed a protest to war such as the Vietnam war which was ongoing it was actually a counterculture song aimed at the racial wars that were going on inside America at the time.

The words however ring clear today as war rages on in Ukraine; “War, huh, yeah what is it good for? Absolu- tely nothing”……. “Cause it means destruction of in- nocent lives War means tears to thousands of mother’s eyes”……. “It ain’t nothing but a heart breaker (War) Friend only to The Undertaker, woo Peace, love and un- derstanding, tell me Is there no place for them today?” I never envisaged the scenario we face today, the impact of war within our European territory. The war in Ukraine leaves none of us untouched, while we look at the atroci- ties being inflicted upon a civilian population most of us can only look on aghast. The little we can do from afar; donations, accepting fleeing families into our homes and providing what other basic necessities we can.

The US, EU and other supporting nations have come to- gether in a unified force inflicting the toughest sanctions on the Russian nation, it is unfortunate that we have to crush a nation knocking it back to the old cold war era of the 1960’s in order to break a despotic dictator who is pushing the world into a potential recession and may- be even a global war. The potential for the conflict to grow should not be discounted as unthinkable, as it is President Putin does not seem deterred from his course and is willing to go beyond what any other leader would consider inhumane.

My concern last summer as we headed into the autumn and winter months along with the lifting of restrictions and the much-needed return to social life, was that we would be looking at the energy industry in relation to disruption in supply and whether that would be a short- term issue or a long-term global issue. With those issues leading to higher inflation. In a recent article I argued the case that high inflation in Europe was transitory but the caveat of course was if Russia invades Ukraine, then inflation could hang around longer as supply of oil and gas are constrained driving up prices along with other supply chain issues that a war on our doorstep could po- tentially bring.

The war has now and forever fractured the form of sup- ply of energy that we as Europeans have over relied on for decades, mainly Russian supply of coal, gas and oil, a reliance that has come back to haunt us. In order to really hurt Russia/Putin we need to cut the supply off at the tap, that is going to hurt Europe in the short-term, possibly even more than the financial recession of 2008 but it is a necessity as it will have the greatest impact in stopping this needless war. The future impact will also mean Putin does not have a stranglehold on European nations which he has held for decades.

While it is difficult to see or even mention the word op- portunity in such times, there has never been a better time than now to seize the moment and change how we readdress our energy needs. Yes, it normally takes years for the changes that are required but when the need ari- ses it is possible to deliver what is deemed to be impos- sible rapidly. Ireland in particular has an opportunity to lead from the front if the political will is there.

Ireland is not the only country with an energy crisis nor the only country that needs to invest vastly in infrastructu- re. With the fastest growing economy in Europe and an increasing population current infrastructure is creaking under the pressure and it is not sustainable. More people than ever are living in cities, some 55% of the world’s population live in cities, this is being mirrored in Ireland but without the supporting investment by government in sustainable energy supply which makes living in cities attractive.

The incentive now however, is for governments and pri- vate companies to invest in such projects as money has never been cheaper, although with current inflation that may just be about to change. With quantitative easing globally supported by central banks in order to support governments stepping in to stabilise markets which were closed due to public health restrictions along with nega- tive interest rates has created an opportunity for gover- nments to grasp the excuse to deliver long postponed projects.

In conclusion it is imperative that stakeholders along the value chain; the public, individual companies, the energy industry as a whole and the government should take action to move the industry forward. The government, as a key project owner should create a fertile environment for the transformation of the renewable energy sector. That means encouraging and incentivising the public’s buy in on micro-generation, off-shore wind, on-shore wind farms and solar. The last thing we want is a de- cade of delayed planning permission from all in sundry objecting to crucial developments and projects.

Colm McGrath, Managing Director, Surety Bonds