‘Significant’ extra effort critical to meeting EU emissions targets

Friends of the Earth: Irish energy objective means emissions must fall 5% a year until 2050

To achieve  2030 targets, annual emission reduction efforts will need to increase by half in the next decade, a European Court of Auditors report has found. File photograph: Getty Images

To achieve 2030 targets, annual emission reduction efforts will need to increase by half in the next decade, a European Court of Auditors report has found. File photograph: Getty Images

 

The EU’s critical greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets for 2030 and 2050 “will not be achieved without significant additional efforts”, according to a European Court of Auditors report.

All economic sectors will need to contribute more to reducing CO2 emissions, it says, though there is a particular onus on the energy sector, as EU energy production from fossil fuels and energy use by transport, industry, households and agriculture jointly account for 79 per cent of Europe’s GHG emissions.

Further delays in cutting emissions will ultimately increase the cost of adapting to global warming, it warns.

To achieve the 2030 targets, annual emission reduction efforts will need to increase by half in the next decade, the report concludes. The most significant change, though, will be required beyond 2030, when the emission reduction rate will need to outpace historic levels by three to four times in order to achieve the 2050 objective – as Ireland’s GHG emissions have increased in recent years.

“It is very striking that the audit report emphasises best value for money is achieved by investing more now in action to reduce climate pollution and adapt to climate change,” said Oisín Coghlan, director of Friends of the Earth.

Silver bullet

He added: “This is a message that many member states and Ireland in particular have yet to accept. Our own Departments of Finance and Public Expenditure continue to resist investment in climate action here in the vain hope some silver bullet will appear in future. This magical thinking only reinforces Ireland’s reputation as ‘a climate laggard’, increases our costs down the line and exposes us all to higher risk of climate chaos.”

FoE’s own calculations show the Government’s energy transition objective means emissions must fall 5 per cent year-on-year, every year from now to 2050. “Unfortunately, the Government’s action plan achieves nothing of the sort and emissions are actually rising year-on-year,” Mr Coghlan added.

The upcoming budget, capital investment plan and final proposals for renewable heat and electricity will be real tests of whether Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s wish to make climate change a priority “ is empty rhetoric or real leadership”.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said the report “ is yet another reminder to the Government that Ireland needs to seriously raise our ambition when it comes to emissions reduction and climate action”.

The report states that EU emissions reduction will need to be three to four times the rate they are now post-2030, he said. “The fact that Ireland won’t meet our 2030 targets, and have just published a National Mitigation Plan which doesn’t match the ambition of the 2030 targets, never mind three or four times more ambitious targets, highlights just how far we need to go in this area.”