Failure on climate targets will damage Ireland’s FDI reputation – Ministers told
Internal brief warns lack of climate action will impact ‘attractiveness’ to multinationals
Ireland’s reputation with multinational companies faces “serious consequences” if the State does not meet international climate change obligations, Ministers were warned in a private briefing.
The internal briefing document on the Government’s climate action plan, obtained by The Irish Times, stated “if we don’t live up to our existing obligations, then it will have obvious and serious consequences for our reputation internationally”.
This would impact “the attractiveness of Ireland as a location for FDI [foreign direct investment] and tourism, and as a source of high-quality food produce”, the briefing said.
It warned that a decision to cut the size of the national herd – something fiercely opposed by farmers – could be on the table in future if other proposed actions to address climate change were not taken.
Herd figures would not be cut “provided we implement all of the mitigation actions identified early”, the briefing said.
Ireland has already failed to reduce emissions in line with agreed EU targets for next year, which will see the State face fines of hundreds of millions of euros. The 2030 targets are even stricter and require Ireland to cut emissions by 30 per cent of 2005 levels.
The approach taken over the past 15 years has seen emissions fall by just 1 per cent, and “will not see us meet our 2030 targets”, the briefing said.
“Failure to implement policies to meet our legally-binding targets could result in a cost to the exchequer of up to €1.75 billion over the next decade as well as locking Ireland into a future high carbon trajectory,” it said.
The Government’s ambitious climate action plan was launched in June and included increasing carbon taxes, targets to push electric vehicle (EV) sales, and widespread retrofitting of homes.
The 31-page briefing document was set out in a question and answer format pointing to the areas of the climate plan where officials feared Ministers might have to respond to criticism.
These included answers to questions on why more was not done in the plan to invest in public transport and cycling, and questions on the affordability of EVs and home retrofitting, as well as if the farming sector was getting off lightly.
The document included responses to criticism that the plan was not realistic, and that references to evaluating different policy options amounted to “waffle” rather than “direct action”.
The document hit out at an Opposition Bill passed by the Dáil to ban fossil fuel exploration in Ireland as “tokenism in the extreme”.
The legislation sponsored by People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith would have no impact on the use of oil and gas, the Ministers were told in the document. “Rather all that it means is that we will have to continue to import them from other countries”.
The briefing stated the Government was avoiding “ill-thought out” actions such as the previous Fianna Fáil-Green Party government’s decision to incentivise the purchase of diesel cars. While producing less greenhouse gas emissions the decision “did not take account of the fact that diesel cars produce greater levels of air pollutants”, the document said.
“We must ensure that the actions we take now do not end up repeating the mistakes of the past, by being ill-thought out and not considering potential side-effects,” the briefing said.
The Government has also committed to an EU goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, but the briefing admitted “that carbon neutrality will require big technology breakthrough over the coming decades” for the policy to be realistic.