Recession to bring Ireland close to its CO2 Kyoto target


IRELAND’S GREENHOUSE gas emissions may fall almost 5 per cent below projections completed only last November as a result of a deeper economic recession, according to new analysis.

Such a fall will bring Ireland close to the Kyoto targets for annual greenhouse emissions of 63 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent by the end of 2012.

New research by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) this month, and circulated to Government departments, examines the effect of a more severe slowdown in the domestic economy than was projected in November. The work was conducted by Prof John FitzGerald and Adele Bergin.

The research assumes the global downturn will be more pronounced than before, with gross national product (GNP) falling to around 10 per cent below that forecast by 2010 and about 5 per cent below the forecast in the longer term. This is consistent with the most recent quarterly forecast from the ESRI.

The implications of this deeper recession scenario suggest that Ireland will come close to meeting its Kyoto targets.

It projects that emissions will be 4.6 per cent below the projections for 2012 calculated late last year. The biggest reductions are in transport (-12 per cent) and manufacturing (between -11 and -23 per cent). Agricultural emissions will stay static, according to the data.

A spokesman for Minister for the Environment John Gormley said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would produce official projections this year, but said it was certain overall greenhouse emissions would be impacted by the deepening recession.

“Even though the figures will go down that does not mean we do not need to act. Rather, it emphasises the need to implement new climate-change policies to decouple economic growth and activity from emissions.

“We need a low carbon economy to help Ireland restore competitiveness and the best time to begin work on that is now,” said the spokesman.

Last September the EPA published projections which showed that emissions may rise to 72 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent by the end of 2012. That is 29 per cent above 1990 levels, more than twice the 13 per cent increase allowed for in targets set by the Kyoto Protocol.

However, the report also noted that with additional measures, including afforestation (which acts as a carbon sink) and Kyoto mechanism purchases, the annual emissions would fall to 1.5 million tonnes above the target. The latest “deeper recession” projections from the ESRI now suggest that Ireland will come much closer to meeting the target than envisaged only three months ago.