‘Huge challenge’ for Ireland to cut emissions by 2050 - Hogan
Significant proportion of State’s greenhouse gas due to agriculture not ineffiencies
reland faces a significant challenge in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and making the transition to a low-carbon future, Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has said. Photograph: Pawel Kopczynski/Files/Reuters
“The deep cuts in emissions that will be required in the period to 2050 represent a huge challenge for Ireland,” he said.
Speaking today at the Environmental Protection Agency’s annual conference Mr Hogan noted that Europe is warming faster than many other parts of the world, with land temperatures rising 0.5 degrees Celsius more than the global average since the pre-industrial era.
“Against this backdrop, the pressure is now on to achieve tangible progress towards a new international climate agreement at the climate conference in Warsaw in a few weeks’ time,” he said.
Mr Hogan noted that within the EU Ireland had a distinct greenhouse gas emissions profile, a significant proportion of which are agriculture related. However, this was not due to inefficiencies.
“Quite the contrary, we have a carbon efficient agriculture and food sector,” he said. “It is simply due to the scale of our agriculture industry”.
Separately he said local authorities will enter 12 year service agreements to provide water services to Irish Water from next year.
“A crucial piece of the reformed sector will be the partnership between Irish Water and the local authorities,” he said.
Mr Hogan said that having one water services authority delivering capital projects will ensure “optimal delivery” as investment increases from its current level of €326 million.
At present meters to charge people for water are being installed at a rate of 27,000 per month. It is estimated that the installations will cost €539 million.
Mr Hogan said that charges for water and meter installations would “definitely be affordable” but would not confirm how much they would cost people.
“I’m leaving that to the commission for energy regulation to work out,” he said.
When asked if he had an idea of what people might pay the Fine Gael TD responded; “Well sure If I had an idea of that I wouldn’t have asked them to do the job”.
“It has to be done independently, in fact there are an awful lot of costs and not just political considerations,” he said.
He added that people will “certainly” know how much they are paying by the final quarter of 2014, however, it may be sooner.
Mr Hogan also said that there will be public consultation on the issue “probably” in the last two months of this year or early 2014, and a report on this will be published subsequently.
The environment minister also hopes to present a bill early next year to establish the Office for Planning Regulation, which will assume the minister’s planning functions as well as investigative powers into the system’s failings.
Establishing an independent regulator was one recommendation from the Mahon tribunal.
“One way or the other, implementation of the recommendation will have significant implications for the planning system generally,” he said.
“We want to avoid damaging the aspects of the system that work well,” he said while adding that the changes aim to make a “meaningful contribution”.