Environmentalists have reacted with dismay to the European Commission’s latest proposals on climate and energy targets for 2030, saying they represent a “significant roll-back” on climate change.
Ciara Kirrane, co-ordinator of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition, said the commission's white paper was "not in line with science" and would make achieving the goal of limiting global warming at 2 degrees Celsius "all but impossible".
In particular, she said, the renewable energy target "falls far short of the ambition needed" despite an appeal to the commission last month by Ireland and seven other states for stronger more ambitious targets for 2030.
Kate Ruddock, policy and campaigns manager for Friends of the Earth Ireland, said the package was "totally inadequate compared to what the science tells us we have to do in Europe to avoid climate catastrophe".
An Taisce policy director James Nix said the commission's paper "would effectively mean that the EU law to regulate emissions from transport fuels ceases to exist after 2020". He called on EU ministers to reverse this "backward step".
However Dr Brian Motherway, chief executive of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, said the commission had sent a "strong signal" that continued investment in renewable energy here and throughout Europe made economic sense.
The package was "cautiously welcomed" by Kenneth Matthews, chief executive of the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA).
He said it acknowledged “the vital role of renewables such as wind power in securing our energy supply”.
He added that the IWEA would now be calling on Irish policymakers to “show active leadership” in the run-up to an EU summit in March so that heads of government could agree on “more ambitious” targets for 2030.
Eddie O’Connor, chief executive of Mainstream Renewable Power, said he supported the European Commission’s policy.
“In our view the nations that go ahead and build their energy systems on renewable energy will be the nations that achieve the most economic growth.
“Those that persist with burning coal condemn themselves to a low-growth future.”