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Climate Change

Emissions targets set by government 'problematic', climate watchdog warns

The statement added that Land Use Sector emissions must also be urgently addressed, but are currently excluded from the targets.

THE CHAIR OF the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC) has described the sectoral emissions targets set by government as ‘problematic’.

The targets were agreed yesterday after days of intense negotiations between government parties over how much agriculture emissions should be reduced.

The figure is now 25%, which is among several targets set for other sectors of society with the aim of reducing emissions by 51% by 2030.

The chair of the CCAC, which is tasked with advising the government on climate action and assessing Ireland’s progress, said in a statement last night that the targets had been noted and represent an ‘important milestone’, but that issues remain.

Marie Donnelly warned that ‘the quantified emissions reductions only amount to a reduction of 43% excluding the Land Use Sector’, which means the targets are not in line with the aims set out in the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act.

The statement added that Land Use Sector emissions must also be urgently addressed, but are currently excluded from the targets.

Additional, Donnelly said percentage reductions ‘do not illustrate how these are consistent with the Carbon Budgets’, and how the budgets themselves will be delivered:

Whilst these targets are a useful starting point the targets will need to be revised upwards and monitored closely in the light of experience. The Climate Action Plan 2023, due later this year, will need to set out the precise actions and steps that will need to be followed in order to align with the ambition of the Carbon Budgets which were adopted by the Oireachtas in April.

Donnelly welcomed the ‘increased’ ambition in the renewable energy sector, pointing towards the need to increase energy security as well as the ultimate goal of eliminating fossil fuels.

She also recommended a new set of policy measures bettering targeted at helping people in fuel poverty and on low incomes to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.

Speaking after yesterday’s announcement, Environment Minister Eamon Ryan said it was a “hugely significant and important day” in the Government’s efforts to battle climate change:

“We have to be ambitious. We have to be bold. We have to take action now. We cannot delay and that’s what this government is committed to.

“This will not work if it’s divisive, this will not work if we’re pointing the finger or blaming one sector or the other. This is only going to work when it’s good for every section of our society.”

Agricultural lobby groups have characterised the targets as a threat to family farms and rural Ireland as a whole, but climate campaigners have said 25% is not enough.

Campaign group Friends of the Earth said 25% was too low for agriculture and that other sectors would have to make up the difference.

CEO Oisín Coghlan said in a statement:

Now that these binding emissions ceilings are set, we urgently need to get on with transformative action in every sector. The time for talking is finally over, it’s time for a relentless focus now on delivery, delivery, delivery.

The targets set yesterday are:

These emission reduction targets are:

  • Electricity – 75%
  • Transport – 50%
  • Commercial and public buildings – 45%
  • Residential Buildings – 40%
  • Industry – 35%
  • Agriculture – 25%
  • Others (including petroleum refining and waste) – 50%

Additional reporting by Tadgh McNally

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