Ireland is avoiding its responsibility to reduce carbon emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 by using “flexibilities” in EU laws, a Brussels-based environmental organisation has said.
The so-called effort-sharing regulation sets national emissions-reduction targets for each member state.
Carbon Market Watch, an alliance of 800 academics and NGOs from 70 countries, and the policy organisation Transport & Environment published an online calculator which they said exposes the weakness in the targets set down for Ireland by the EU.
Different countries are pushing for flexibilities in the law, such as using surplus pollution permits from the EU’s carbon market or credits from forestry to compensate for emissions in other sectors.
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said the Irish target, supposedly a 30 per cent reduction in emissions compared to 2005 - ie a further 10 per cent reduction from 2020 - was in fact only a 1 per cent reduction on the 2020 target.
"The analysis demonstrates that Ireland and the European Commission have come up with a target which completely fails to reflect our shared obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention," Mr Ryan said.
“We committed in 1992 to address climate change ‘on the basis of equity and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities’.”
He said that instead of living up to this commitment, the commission’s proposal used three different mechanisms to weaken Ireland’s 2030 target.
“Undoubtedly, the worst of these is the fact that we are being rewarded for failing to meet our 2020 target.
“We are one of only two member states to fail to meet our 2020 targets. Ireland and the commission must revise our target to play our part in the transition to a low carbon economy.”
Femke De Jong, EU policy director at Carbon Market Watch, said: "It is completely unacceptable that the EU's largest climate tool would allow some countries to stall efforts to cut emissions, or even increase their pollution – especially after another year of record-breaking temperatures."
Ms De Jong said the law had “great potential to bring multiple benefits to citizens in the form of cleaner cities and more comfortable homes”.
The organisation called on policymakers to close the loopholes in the law.
EU member states and the European Parliament are currently forming their respective positions on the proposed law. Negotiations are set to conclude later this year.
The online tool, with comparisons for all EU member states, is available at effortsharing.org