EU’s carbon targets challenging but doable for Ireland, says Ryan

Plan must not leave ordinary people with financial burden of climate change – Cuffe

Minister for the Environment and Climate Eamon Ryan believes the State can meet the EU’s carbon target. Photograph: The Irish Times

Minister for the Environment and Climate Eamon Ryan believes the State can meet the EU’s carbon target. Photograph: The Irish Times

 

Meeting the goals of the European Union’s “Fit for 55” carbon emissions reduction plan will be challenging for Ireland but the targets were doable from a national perspective, Minister for the Environment and Climate Eamon Ryan has said.

“It’s a very significant backing up of what we are doing in our own climate legislation. I see that as complementary,” he said.

This was reflected in Ireland’s commitment to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and to scale up retrofitting of houses over the next decade, Mr Ryan said.

In some instances, Ireland was ahead of Europe in ambition which would have to be taken into account in negotiations to ensure more ambitious countries were not punished, the Minister said – a reference to the move to include transport and buildings in an emissions trading system.

Ireland is already collecting and increasing carbon taxes with revenues being used for climate actions.

Price rises

There was a mixed response from environmental campaigners and industry representatives with some saying it didn’t go far enough while others warning of price rises for consumers because of knock-on costs from taxing emissions.

A4E, which represents major European carriers including Ryanair and Lufthansa, said the policies threatened the competitiveness of airlines and the tourism industry and warned airlines could end up paying twice for emissions through overlapping measures.

Environmental groups, by contrast, say the EU could do more on items like fuel taxes, which will remain limited to intra-EU flights, and the promotion of the cleanest e-fuels.

“They are making up for decades of inaction to regulate aviation emissions, but don’t go far enough,” said Andrew Murphy, aviation director at Transport & Environment.

Irish Green MEPs Ciarán Cuffe and Grace O’Sullivan greeted the plan with “cautious optimism”.

“In practical terms, this will mean better insulated homes and lower energy bills, phasing out of fossil fuels and more charging points for EVs,” Mr Cuffe said. However, he added, “the financial burden of climate change cannot be left to ordinary people and workers”.