Naughten rejects Ireland’s low ranking for climate change

Reaching climate targets is at the top of the policy agenda for Government, says Minister

Denis Naughton rejected the basis for arriving at the ranking and the conclusions reached by the NGO, Climate Action Network Europe. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Denis Naughton rejected the basis for arriving at the ranking and the conclusions reached by the NGO, Climate Action Network Europe. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

 

The findings of a European report ranking Ireland as the second worst EU member state on actions to address climate change have been strongly rejected by Minister for Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten.

The Minister rejected the basis for arriving at the ranking and the conclusions reached by the NGO, Climate Action Network Europe.

Published on Monday, it found Ireland was going to miss 2020 targets on reducing carbon emissions and adopting renewable energy. It also accused the Government of doing nothing to support more ambitious EU targets.

But Mr Naughten said the conclusions failed to reflect Ireland’s stated ambition on climate action.

“We are, as a country, playing catch-up on our obligations in relation to climate change. This is as much our opportunity as our obligation. In any event it is a moral necessity and a vital national interest. Addressing climate change and our climate targets out to 2030 and beyond is at the top of the policy agenda for the Government.”

National Development Plan

Significant measures announced in the National Development Plan (NDP), which will lead to a significant step change in funding available for climate action over the next decade, were not addressed to any extent in this report, he added. This included the direction of almost €22 billion to addressing the transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient society.

Under a Government commitment to support communities in addressing climate change, new measures will be announced jointly on Wednesday by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Mr Naughten and four other Ministers.

These will include supports for microgeneration of electricity using solar and wind energy. A new framework for use of biofuels and generation of green gas using anaerobic digestors of food waste are also expected.

Mr Naughten cited key investment priorities that will have an impact on Ireland’s climate targets including:

Transitioning Moneypoint power station away from coal by 2025;

Energy efficiency upgrades of 45,000 homes a year from 2021 and providing support for a rollout of heat pump technologies;

Delivering energy upgrades to all public buildings and a minimum of one-third of commercial buildings;

Implementing a Renewable Electricity Support Scheme to deliver an additional 3,000-4,500mw of renewable energy with initial focus on “shovel-ready projects”;

Rollout of a support scheme for renewable heat energy and a national smart metering programme;

At least 500,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2030; and

A €500 million climate action fund to leverage investment by public and private bodies in climate actions.

The NDP, he said, would mean no new non-zero emission cars sold in Ireland post 2030, with no NCT Cert to be issued for non-zero emission cars post 2045. “This is one of the most ambitious commitments on zero emissions on passenger cars in the EU.”

A transition to a low emission urban bus fleet included electric buses, with no diesel-only buses purchased from July 2019.