Climate change Minister blames Greens for agreeing unrealistic emissions targets

Ireland set to miss greenhouse gas targets as emissions rise in every sector

EPA figures suggest the official Government policy of a decarbonised Ireland by 2050 will be hopelessly unachievable unless there are radical changes. Photograph: Getty

EPA figures suggest the official Government policy of a decarbonised Ireland by 2050 will be hopelessly unachievable unless there are radical changes. Photograph: Getty

 

The Minister for Climate Change has laid blame on the Green Party for agreeing to “unrealistic” targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions which Ireland is likely to miss.

On Thursday the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said the State is set to be one of only two EU states that will not be compliant .

The latest official greenhouse gas emissions figures for Ireland paint a stark picture of clear failure to meet any of the State’s targets. In its annual projections for emissions between now and 2020, and beyond, the EPA said Ireland is “unlikely” to meet the 2020 EU targets.

“The Green Party was part of a Government that signed up in 2009, without any apparent economic analysis, to an unachievable target,” Denis Naughten wrote in an opinion piece for IrishTimes.com .

He said the figure could be attributed to reduced investment during the downturn, as well as to the target agreed by the Fianna Fáíl-Green coalition 2009.

“Ireland will need to purchase compliance with its 2020 targets. This is a direct consequence of what can be characterised as economically reckless decision making in 2009.”.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan rejected Mr Naughten’s contention, asserting he was using it to distract attention from the complete inaction of Government on cliamte change.

The latest official greenhouse gas emissions figures for Ireland paint a stark picture of clear failure to meet any of the State’s targets. In its annual projections for emissions between now and 2020, and beyond, the EPA said Ireland is “unlikely” to meet the 2020 EU targets.

The EPA’s figures suggest that emissions will be between 4 per cent and 6 per cent below the 2005 levels. That falls far below the 20 per cent target set by the European Union. Ireland looks like it will be one of only two EU states that will not be compliant.

Emissions are increasing in every sector, but particularly in agriculture and transport. The figures presented by the EPA suggest the official Government policy of a decarbonised Ireland by 2050 will be hopelessly unachievable unless there are radical changes in policy.

In a presentation at the Royal Irish Academy on Thursday, Brian Quirke of the EPA said that current and planned policies and measures were not sufficient to meet the 2020 targets.

He said that emissions were “projected to continue to increase out to 2030 and beyond”.

“We are not on track towards decarbonisation in the long term,” he concluded.

Expected shortfall

In addition, there is an expected shortfall in meeting 2020 targets for energy efficiency and renewable energy, further adding to the challenge facing the State.

Agriculture presents a major challenge; the Government’s Foodwise 2025 Strategy, the main bulwark of policy, will lead to increased emissions from the sector.

While agriculture continues to dominate the increased emissions trend, transport is another area in which emissions will increase rather than fall over the next decade, if no new measures are introduced.

The EPA has dramatically reduced its projection for the number of electric vehicles on Irish roads by 2020. Last year, it said there could be 50,000; now it says the likely figure will be closer to only 10,000.

Laura Burke, EPA director general, said: “The EPA’s latest greenhouse gas projections are a disappointing indicator that the current range of policy measures to reduce emissions and to meet compliance obligations are failing in an improving economy.

Carbon emissions

“In addition, Ireland has a national policy position that commits us to reducing our carbon emissions by at least 80 per cent compared to 1990 levels by 2050 across the electricity generation, built environment and transport sectors while achieving carbon neutrality in the agriculture and land use sectors.

“If we are to realise this policy position and our aspirations to transition to a low-carbon economy, then any new measures to be included in the upcoming and future national mitigation plans need to be innovative and effective.”

Kate Ruddock of Friends of Earth said the figures were “quite startling” as they showed increases in all sectors across Ireland.

“It’s very disappointing in the absence of an action plan from Government to try and reduce our emissions. We are doing a rather bad job now and it appears we will continue to do a bad job going forward,” she said.