Transparency gap: State bodies holding back company emissions data from the public

Noteworthy project reveals emissions profiles of some of Ireland’s largest companies and highlights where lack of public transparency still exist.

IRISH COMPANIES ARE getting better at voluntarily declaring their emissions – but several State bodies are still holding data from the public, a Noteworthy investigation has found. 

We spent the past few months seeking out and analysing data on the emissions profiles of individual companies to see how they are responding to the climate crisis. 

We also examined the level of transparency on companies and their emissions, and whether Irish authorities are doing enough to make emissions data easily accessible to the public. 

Our research highlights: 

  • Despite increasing access to company emissions data, Noteworthy still encountered wide gaps in easy public access to company data for Irish-specific emissions.
  • State bodies who hold detailed emissions data from companies, but do not make them available, cite legal or commercial reasons for the lack of public transparency.
  • While emissions are falling in many sectors, our analysis shows that heavy emitting sectors such as agriculture and aviation have stagnating or growing emissions. 
  • Climate researchers are concerned with a focus on emissions intensity metrics in high-emitting sectors that may show improvement even as emissions rise.

In part two we examine the role that subsidies and other incentives from the Irish State may have played in slowing our transition away from fossil fuels. 

Noteworthy / Flourish

To view an interactive version of this graph, click here

Greater access to emissions data emerging

Every year, the World Economic Forum releases a detailed report on the top risks facing the world. The 2021 edition identified extreme weather and climate action failure as the two top most likely risks for the third year running.

The science is clear on the only solution to the climate problem: limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C by 2050 at the latest. To do so, the global economy needs to operate at net zero emissions by mid-century.

Many enterprises are quick to tell the public how they are doing their bit in tackling the climate crisis, with project launches and interactive websites outlining detailed targets and measures out to 2050. 

Many, however, have been accused of greenwashing by climate campaigners. This is not surprising, with a recent analysis of emissions data finding that 100 companies were responsible for 71% of global emissions between 1988 and 2017.

Until recently, gaining detailed access to the emissions profiles of individual companies was a difficult task. While some large emitting companies have embedded climate transparency into their DNA, many have been slow to pull back the curtain.

Things appear to be changing recently, with a rise in voluntary reporting by companies, influenced in large part by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TDFD).

According to its 2020 status report, over 1,340 companies with a market capitalisation of $12.6 trillion have expressed support for the TCFD. The report states, however, that “continuing progress is needed”, with only 26% of companies providing details on their emissions in 2019 disclosures.

Which companies are disclosing their emissions voluntarily?

According to Conor Molloy, an independent energy management advisor, trainer and auditor, we have “categorically” seen improvements in Irish companies and state bodies managing their energy use and reducing emissions in recent years. 

He said that we also “score very well” in terms of getting companies to participate in voluntary programmes. “We will be envied around Europe for that in my experience.”

Noteworthy examined several voluntary schemes through which companies are publicly highlighting their emissions profiles such as the Carbon Disclosure Project or CDP – a global non-profit that provides a platform for companies to voluntarily report their climate footprint.

While the public is limited to accessing 20 records per month, Noteworthy requested, and was provided with, access to the CDP database to analyse the emissions data of companies with operations in Ireland.

The CDP asks companies to fill in detailed questionnaires every year, including emissions data and a myriad of other details about their carbon footprint. Companies are then graded from ‘A’ down to ‘F’, a rating reserved for companies that do not supply any results. 

Over 9,600 companies worth over 50% of global market capitalisation have disclosed data to CDP, making it the largest voluntary database of corporate environmental data. From this figure, 47 Irish companies reported most recently in 2020, including over 60% of the top 30 companies in the country, up from just 16 companies when the CDP launched here in 2013. 

In 2020, large public and private companies such as Applegreen, Gas Networks Ireland, John Sisk, Keelings and Ryanair reported for the first time. In 2019, Dublin City University also became the first university globally to report.

According to the latest 2020 data, Ireland outperforms the global average, with 11% of the 47 making the “A List” compared to 3% globally. This includes Kingspan, ESB, AIB Group, and Accenture.

There were 15 companies who have yet to respond to the 2020 voluntary questionnaire and therefore received an ‘F’ rating, including Abbey Plc, Eircom and Flutter Entertainment, which is the holding company for Paddy Power and Betfair bookmakers.

Noteworthy / Flourish

To view an interactive version of this graph, click here.

Irish companies emissions

Noteworthy examined the CDP data, emissions reported directly by companies through sustainability reports, as well as responses received to a survey that Noteworthy sent to companies with operations or headquarters in Ireland. 

We also examined data on large industrial facilities that fall under the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) – the world’s oldest and largest emissions permit market – as well as additional emissions data from industrial sites held by the EPA and the EU.

We also looked at energy data that public bodies report to the Sustainable Energy Authority Of Ireland (SEAI), as well as overall emissions data held by State agencies. 

Based on its analysis, Noteworthy was able to put together a broad overview of various individual company and public sector emissions over the past decade.

It is difficult, however, to fully compare and contrast emissions as different or limited emissions data are reported under different voluntary and compulsory schemes. 

Our analysis focused, where available, on direct emissions from companies and indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, heating and cooling consumed by the company – known as Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions respectively. 

Scope 3 or indirect emissions along a company’s value chain, such as business travel and commuting ,were not examined as most companies are yet to systematically record this data.

Noteworthy / Flourish

We’ve created a searchable table showing a detailed breakdown of EU ETS emissions data from industrial sites in Ireland. View this table here >>

EU Emissions Trading Scheme

The EU ETS data that covers 105 large energy users and electricity generators in Ireland gives a good insight into companies with some of the largest emissions profiles in Ireland.

While it does not provide a total overview of all emissions – it mainly covers carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power and heat generation – the companies that fall under the scheme account for around 25% of our emissions.

This is not surprising as the scheme covers power plants and carbon-intensive sectors such as cement production, as well as dairy processing, refineries, and five large, Irish licensed, commercial airlines.

It is notable that emissions from the ESB – which has one of the biggest carbon footprints – have dropped off in recent years, partly due to energy efficiency measures but largely due to a sharp fall in coal use at Moneypoint in advance of its phase-out in 2025. 

There are also encouraging signs of improvements in the wider public sector based on an analysis of energy-related data that the public sector must report every year to the SEAI.

This includes the civil service, state bodies, local authorities, universities, and hospitals, as well as charities that receive more than 75% of their funding from the public sector. 

Public bodies turning a corner

Our analysis shows that the HSE, Irish Water and Irish Rail have the most significant emissions among public bodies, followed by Coillte, Bus Eireann, the Defence Forces, and An Garda Síochána.

This is not surprising given the scope of operations, staff and premises of these organisations, with emissions falling in all cases from their baseline emissions levels. 

Noteworthy also examined where public and private companies have made improvements in terms of energy efficiencies. The key driver of energy investment projects – from the household to the corporate world – is return on investment through cost savings.

The most common energy efficiency projects undertaken by the private sector, according to the CDP data, include building upgrades, retrofits, changes in transportation, better energy procurement and through behavioural change within organisations. 

According to aggregated data released by the SEAI, 94% of public bodies improved on energy efficiency to help reduce emissions by 2019. 

Noteworthy / Flourish

We’ve created a searchable table showing a detailed breakdown of emissions data from the public sector in Ireland. View this table here >>

Energy efficiencies in public sector

Data from the public sector energy monitoring & reporting system under which public bodies report on energy usage shows that annual energy savings were achieved in 2019 equivalent to avoiding 788,000 tonnes of CO2 and €287 million in cost.

Between 2009 and 2019, the public sector avoided 5.2 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, with cumulative energy savings over the same period of €1.55 billion. According to the SEAI, the public sector is on course to meet its energy efficiency target for 2020. 

Irish Water has made the biggest savings in consumption through energy efficiency measures between 2005 and 2019. Key works included changes to lighting at its Leixlip facility and improvements in heating, transport, and energy at various facilities.

Irish Rail is also high up the list with various changes since 2008 at its depots and at other sites such as the introduction of fluorescent fittings & lighting controls. Local authorities have also fared well.

Louth County Council, for example, installed solar and a wind turbine in 2017 at its animal pound, generating approximately 6,570 kWh of electricity at the site per year.

According to energy auditor Conor Molloy, Irish companies have a history of “doing energy efficiency very well”, including being “one of the leading adopters of [ISO] 50001 around the world”, a certification standard to improve energy-related performance.

Putting energy efficiency first is, Molloy said, “obviously the right thing to do” as there is “no point in pumping renewables into a system that’s wasteful”.

“Ireland has been slow on a lot of things but we’ve been very, very good on energy efficiency.”

Still a way to go – especially in agriculture

The data collected, however, also shows there is still some way to go to translate energy efficiency gains into a drop in absolute emissions in some sectors of the Irish economy. 

In many cases, large drops in emissions were due to companies buying renewable energy certificates rather than any change in production levels.

There are also signs that some companies are increasing production which means that emissions are not necessarily falling in line with efficiency measures, and are rising in some sectors. This is evident in the agri-food sector, as well as in pharmaceuticals. 

The latest EU ETS data released this month shows that emissions in dairy processing went up 4% last year, while emissions from the pharmaceutical sector increased by almost 11%.

While the majority of agricultural emissions are accounted for outside of EU ETS, the facilities of several agri-food processors fall under the system.

Although some processors are only required to report on some of their facilities, the data shows that emissions from most facilities, particularly in dairy, have grown since 2013. 

Noteworthy / Flourish

To view an interactive version of this graph, click here

Data from SEAI’s Large Industry Energy Network (LIEN) shows that, while the energy efficiency performance of the food and drink sector improved by 2% between 2006 and 2018, output increased by 4% in 2018. This led to an energy increase of 2% that year. 

The network is made up of companies with an annual energy spend of €1 million or more that work with the SEAI to improve their energy performance.

There was also a marked increase in aviation emissions between 2013 and 2019, according to EU ETS data, before a very sharp drop-off during the pandemic. The data also points to a noticeable increase in data centre emissions over the past five year, with the sector expected to grow substantially over the coming decades. 

While emissions have started to fall in emissions-heavy sectors such as cement and refineries, largely owing to investment in energy efficiencies, the sectors still have a significant footprint, with several companies at similar or higher levels of emissions in 2020 compared to 2013. 

The LIEN data also shows that cement manufacturing and refining, together with retail, technology and service companies – responsible for 61% of the network’s total energy usage in 2018 – only achieved an efficiency improvement of  0.4% between 2006 and 2018.

Sharp drop in absolute emissions is key

According to Dublin City University researcher Paul Price, there is evidence at a global level that increased efficiency can lead to increased emissions as companies transfer savings on energy costs toward higher production levels or business expansion.

“The challenge is immense and adopting intensity targets or efficiency targets is really not good enough. You’ve got to actually be limiting total emissions and that effectively means limiting the total amount of fossil fuel usage that a company is responsible for,” he said. 

“We have a concentration in policy on measures and individual actions. These things must add up to what is required, which is cutting absolute emissions at a phenomenal rate. Otherwise, you concentrate on efficiencies and the money gets spent on more emissions in the system.” 

One means to help achieve both energy efficiency and the rapid reduction in emissions required is through carbon budgets, Price said, rather than focusing on policy changes without any cap on allowed emissions. 

Price said that budgets, such as those outlined in the Climate Bill currently before the Oireachtas, will work better to push companies in the right direction as “businesses do things in absolute measures”. 

He said that measuring things in terms of intensity, such as emissions savings per unit of production, will no longer add up unless you are also falling within the budget set.

“If a company has to think about ‘how are we going to get 7% emission reductions per year’ then the whole picture of what constitutes efficiencies is different because you suddenly have to meet the reduction pathway.”

Do science-based targets offer a solution?

It is argued that one way to ensure that absolute emissions also go down is through the use of science-based emissions reduction targets in a company’s climate plans. 

Specifically in Ireland, Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) has developed a low carbon pledge through which members publicly commit to set science-based targets. 

By signing the pledge, companies commit to set targets by 2024 based on climate science to reduce their absolute emissions. A total of 63 companies, including ABP Foods, Diageo and Vodafone have signed up to the pledge.

According to Ali Sheridan, a sustainability expert and PhD researcher at Maynooth University, science-based targets are an indication that companies understand “the need to achieve absolute emission reductions”.  

Sheridan said that there has been a recent marked shift in attitude as companies realise sustainability is “an essential element of business continuity”, as well as feeling pressure from employees and investors.

“We’re seeing a really key driver of the investor challenging clients to explain what your business will look like in 10 years time. This has really changed how we talk about climate and how much heat it’s given in the boardroom,” she said. 

This was exemplified in a recent public letter issued by Larry Fink, the chairman of Blackrock – the world’s largest asset manager – calling on companies to “disclose a plan for how their business model will be compatible with a net zero economy”.

Although we are now “starting to see the right level of ambition in terms of talk”, Sheridan said that there is still a long way to go to hit the “sweet spot” of the triple bottom line of maintaining profitability and growing the business, while also acting within planetary limits.

The ‘Green Tinge’

The use of carbon intensity measurements, for example, has been criticised by environmental campaigners and some researchers, the argument being that companies can design these metrics to show decreasing intensity over time. 

Measurements used depend on the activities that the company is engaged in. For example, in our survey of Irish companies, nearly all respondents used different metrics to measure their carbon intensity depending on their industry.

According to Aideen O’Dochartaigh, an assistant professor in accounting at DCU’s Business School, focusing on intensity measurements “is a red herring”.

She said that most companies will prefer to use this form of measurement as “companies are good at efficiency”. She said that it has been a “massive problem” for years that companies are “increasing their activity while increasing their efficiency and it all cancels out”. 

This is seen in Bord Bia’s Origin Green reporting, she said. Almost 300 food and drink companies are members of the sustainability programme, accounting for close to 90% of exports from the two sectors.

In its 2016 sustainability report, Bord Bia reported on absolute changes in emissions that O’Dochartaigh said was quite a “novel” move at the time. “But they just released their progress report last year and there’s no absolute emissions in it, they only talk about intensity.” 

Bord Bia told Noteworthy that it focused on carbon intensity reporting to “ensure alignment with other global and national farm sustainability reports”, adding that reporting on emissions intensity is “standard practice” in the dairy and beef industry.

It said, however, that the next Origin Green progress update report, due later this year, will make reference to “national absolute agriculture emissions”.

A core aim of the original Business in the Community Ireland low carbon pledge was for members to reduce emission intensity by 50% by 2030. The updated pledge, launched in March, however, now commits companies to absolute emission reductions. 

Its CEO Tomás Sercovich told us that there is a “challenge” to understand the difference between absolute emissions and emission intensities as “you can see that for some companies, their absolute emissions can go up, but the emissions intensity goes down”.

“There will be the case that a company, let’s say, makes an acquisition – very strategic, very forward looking – but maybe their emissions go up significantly that year because of that acquisition.” 

Possibility to ‘game the system’

While energy efficiency gains and energy intensity are important metrics, Hannah Daly, a University College Cork lecturer and researcher specialising in energy systems, told Noteworthy that focusing on one metric can have “perverse incentives for gaming the metric”.

This can be an issue, Daly said, in areas such as agriculture where there tends to be a focus on the carbon intensity of meat and dairy products in Ireland. 

This is a particular issue in dairy production, she said, where growing production in line with ambitious State targets in its current agri-food strategy is driving up emissions..

“[Dairy cows are] producing more methane as there’s more intensive production where they’re fed more to produce more milk. So, in many ways, it’s quite easy to cherry pick the indicators which show things in a good light but absolute methane emissions have gone up,” she said. 

She said that it is also important to ensure that emissions in the supply chain are included to better understand our “global carbon footprint as well as reducing the emissions in the national accounts that our EU targets are based on”.

Supply chain or Scope 3 emissions heavily dominate in the food sector as it relies on raw materials and agricultural products which emit a lot through their life cycle. 

BITCI recently commissioned the sustainability consultancy Quantis to undertake a study to find out where members stand on Scope 3 monitoring. A total of 42 responded and in-depth interviews were held with 10 companies, including agri-food companies.

The questionnaire found that 71% (30) are addressing Scope 3 emissions, but that barriers remain including lack of guidance, poor access to data, lack of resources to track emissions, as well as, in some cases, a lack of leadership buy-in.

Noteworthy / Flourish

 To view an interactive version of this chart click here.

Emissions transparency still an issue

While there are clear improvements in the level of reporting from companies, including voluntary reporting directly to Noteworthy, our research shows that there are still significant gaps in public access to detailed company emissions information.

Additional detailed emissions data that would have greatly assisted in Noteworthy’s analysis is available to State entities but is not released publicly. 

This includes a detailed company energy survey carried out annually by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) that brings in a wealth of data on the emissions of companies. The statistics body publishes data based on the answers received but only on an aggregated level.

The CSO told Noteworthy that “it is not possible to provide [your organisation] with company level data” as survey replies are treated as confidential under the Statistics Act. 

The SEAI also maintains a database for the Large Industry Energy Network (LIEN) but would not provide individual data from members. “Any specific information on energy consumption from individual LIEN members would be considered commercially sensitive,” it said.

‘Transparency is critical’

Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) was also unable to provide Noteworthy with access to data on direct emissions from the 60-plus members that have signed up to its low carbon pledge, although it does disclose the overall aggregate data of all signatories. 

BITCI’s Sercovich told us that, having worked in the sustainability space for two decades, “transparency is critical” for him.

“Companies need to understand that this is how they’re being evaluated – whether it’s investors, regulators, consumers that are more and more interested in this… You can see that the appetite is big, people really want to know [about companies emissions],” he said. 

Sercovich said that the results from the low carbon pledge show that 34% of companies involved in 2019 had their data externally validated. In 2020, this figure rose to 53%. “I think that’s promising.” 

While in clear favour of transparency, Conor Molloy said that we also need to recognise that companies are entitled to some level of protection in terms of commercial sensitivities. 

“In my particular sector [transport], it’s highly competitive so they’re absolutely right to keep their performance commercially confidential. Why should they tell their competitor up the road that they’re 10% more fuel efficient than them?”

Voluntary company reporting

While over 200 companies with operations in Ireland reported to the CDP in 2020, many do not provide emissions on a country level. There are also limits on access to records. While Noteworthy was provided with access to the CDP database to analyse the data of Irish companies, the general public are provided limited access to 20 records per month.

This makes it difficult to carry out a deep analysis of company records, as Irish climate activists, working on the Glasgow Agreement project to produce a public emissions inventory, recently found out.

According to MJ, one of a three-person team in Ireland, the project “will allow for greater transparency of where emissions are really coming from”, which can then be used as a tool by activists to push governments to make necessary emissions cuts.

While the reports in the CDP database are “comprehensive and offered varying scopes for each company’s emissions”, MJ told Noteworthy that the team had to set up several accounts to obtain all the Irish submissions “which we found concerning”.  

Noteworthy / Flourish

We’ve created a searchable table showing a breakdown of voluntary company reporting to the CDP of their emissions in Ireland. View this table here >>

Transparency ‘key for building trust’

Ross Simson, CDP’s global director of data, said that there is a cap on downloads as it has to “consider that our data and datasets are also made available via commercial agreements given the need to finance the high cost of collecting the data and maintaining our global disclosure system”.

Simson added that CDP’s publicly available annual analysis of company data helps to “share insights with key players in the market”, while its data on cities is fully public and corporate data access is provided to academics “at no or much reduced cost”.

In general, Oscar Mooney, another member of the Irish Glasgow Agreement team, said that his key takeaway from the research is “how difficult it is to get emissions data on some companies and industries,” particularly in the livestock sector.

“Transparency is key for building trust, and without that transparency I just can’t see these companies as responsible or considerate towards me as a concerned citizen or to both our local and global environment,” he said. 

The final member of the team, Francesca Loughran said that, with the exception of data from companies that fall under the EU ETS system, it was “extremely hard to obtain” emissions data for many sectors of society.

She said that one solution to the paucity in available data is to make it mandatory for companies to report on absolute emissions annually under a standardised approach “that is widely accessible for all”.

“Companies that fail to report or give inaccurate emissions data should be contested and held accountable through some kind of penalty process, such as fines or should be exposed for shortcomings in providing data to the public,” she added.

Francesca Loughran Francesca Loughran

How to improve reporting

The strict national regulation called for by Loughran is one possible solution beyond voluntary schemes “to support consistent comparable reporting”, according to DCU’s O’Dochartaigh.

“Regulation is so important because it would mean that it wouldn’t be this pick and mix that it is now where companies can just report the information that places them in the best light,” she said. 

“It would be a way of publicly discharging accountability that we absolutely need now, especially with things like the carbon budgets coming in at national level,” she added. 

Even where companies are obliged to report, however, the data is not always publicly available. The SEAI, for example, refused to provide energy data that companies are obliged to disclose under an EU Directive on energy efficiency

Companies that fall under the Directive must undertake an energy audit or ensure that their energy management system meets criteria set out by SEAI every four years

According to the energy authority, as of September 2020, 415 organisations had reported out of an estimated 900 companies that fall under the Directive but said that it was “not aware of a comprehensive and verified list of entities that are required to complete an energy audit”. 

When asked by Noteworthy if it could provide a copy of audit data received to date, it said that it was “not in a position to share this data” as it “is commercially sensitive information”.

There is also an EU Directive on Non-Financial Reporting, in place since 2018, that requires large publicly listed companies to report on their impact on the environment or where it cannot provide this information, to outline an explanation as to why it cannot disclose details. 

EU Directive falling short

While the Irish regulations transposing the Directive make no specific reference to emissions reporting, the European Commission published guidelines in 2019 that reporting can include carbon emissions, carbon intensity, and plans to reduce carbon emissions. 

The Directive has been heavily criticised as light touch regulation with too much flexibility in how companies can report, including by the Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB) – an international consortium of business and environmental NGOs.

The CDSB reviewed the 2020 disclosures of 50 of Europe’s largest listed companies with a combined market capitalisation of $3.5 trillion. It found that “much progress is still needed to improve the clarity and completeness of disclosures”.

DCU’s O’Dochartaigh feels the same, finding that the Directive gives a lot of flexibility in terms of what companies can report and criticised the limited number of companies that have to report presently. “It’s not considered onerous… It’s not designed to get companies to really report their emissions in a consistent [and] comparable way,” she added. 

In addition, there is no database in Ireland to monitor who falls under the Directive. Following enquiries from Noteworthy, the Department of Enterprise said it “does not maintain a list of companies” and that this is a matter for the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement.

The corporate watchdog, in turn, told us that there is no regulatory requirement for it to maintain a database. It added that, where it becomes aware of defaults in complying with any aspect of company law, “it will consider the evidence available in respect of the matter and take whatever enforcement action is considered appropriate and proportionate.”

Seanad Bill looks to change playing field

The issues with the Directive is one of the reasons that Senator Lynn Ruane wants to bring in a Bill that would require companies operating in Ireland to make mandatory public disclosures on emissions arising from their activities in the State, including supply chain emissions. 

This will help to create an environment of “accountability and transparency”, according to Sebastian McAteer, Ruane’s parliamentary advisor who worked with the Senator on the Bill. 

“I don’t think it’s unreasonable for this data to be public and for it to be easy to access for consumers to make informed decisions around corporate social responsibility of companies,” he said. “A standardised system of counting would be a major victory.”

The Minister of State Robert Troy said in February that he is “committed to seeing reform” in this space to develop solutions that “ensure businesses are working towards reducing their environmental footprint and greater transparency”. 

According to McAteer, Ruane’s Bill will likely be introduced in the coming months pending the review of the Non-Financial Reporting Directive, with the European Commission just last month adopting a proposal to greatly revamp it. 

More stringent rules proposed under the Directive – that would be renamed the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive – would require all large companies to release more specific data on carbon emissions. 

The Directive, if accepted by the other EU bodies, would also cover 50,000 companies – up from 11,000 currently – with plans to roll it out to small and medium businesses in the future.

The new Directive would also require that climate data is audited and reported in line with EU sustainability standards to ensure companies report reliable and comparable emissions. 

Perfection is the enemy of the good

Additional landmark legislative moves are also underway to shift the climate needle in both Brussels and Kildare Street.

Last month, the EU provisionally agreed to legally commit to reduce emissions by at least 55% by 2030 in a bid to achieve a climate-neutral Europe by 2050. The Climate Bill currently before the Oireachtas also seeks to hit a similar target over the same time period. 

If the impending policy moves will be enough to meet the mid-century targets is another question. Just two weeks ago, the International Energy Agency found global energy emissions are heading for their second-largest annual increase as we come out of the pandemic.

There will be tough decisions to make, according to Conor Molloy, who has a slide in a training presentation that explains to companies about the difference between what they’ve been doing for the last 10 years, “which is really good”, and what they will have to do over the next decade. “You can almost see and feel the penny drop behind the eyes of the audience”. 

Molloy is confident that we are turning a corner, albeit imperfectly, and that we need to push forward rapidly while also respecting efforts that companies are making now.

“They won’t be perfect systems by any means but a good plan executed now is better than a perfect plan next week,” he said.

Whatever the plan or metric to achieve emissions reductions over the coming decades, Francesca Loughran and other climate activists want to see a new system of easy access to emissions data to “hold companies to a higher level of accountability for the climate”. 


In part two, we examine the role that subsidies and other incentives from the Irish State may have played in slowing the transition away from fossil fuels. 


This investigation was carried out by Niall Sargent of Noteworthy. It was proposed and funded by you, our readers. 

Noteworthy is the investigative journalism platform from You can support our work by helping to fund one of our other investigation proposals or submitting an idea for a story. Click here to find out more >>

We have a number of other climate-related proposals which you can view here

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel