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Ireland won't meet 2013-2020 EU targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, EPA says

The Environmental Protection Agency has released its 2020-2040 projections for greenhouse gas emissions.

Image: Shutterstock/Andriano

IRELAND HAS GONE over the EU targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions for 2013-2020, according to new projections from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

The EPA, an independent public body responsible for environmental research and enforcing environmental law in Ireland, released its projections for Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions for 2020 to 2040. 

It said Ireland is projected to have gone over its emissions limit for 2013-2020 by 12.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2 eq).

However, the EPA said the country can meet the EU reduction targets for 2021-2030 if the measures set out in the government’s 2019 Climate Action Plan are fully implemented.

This would result in a reduction of almost 2% per year in emissions between 2021 and 2030. 

Director General at the EPA, Laura Burke, said the next decade “needs to be one of major developments and advances” in Ireland’s climate change response. 

“For Ireland to meet the more ambitious targets as presented in the European Climate Law and Ireland’s Climate Bill, and to transform to a climate resilient, biodiversity rich and climate neutral economy by 2050, there needs to be a significant and immediate increase in the scale and pace of greenhouse gas emission reductions,” Burke said. 

projected emissions Projected greenhouse emissions by sector if existing measures remain and the 2019 Climate Action Plan is fully implemented. Source: EPA

The EPA report said Ireland’s 2030 emissions will be 24% lower than 2018 levels, in a best case scenario, if the Climate Action Plan measures are fully implemented. 

These measures include generating 70% of the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030, increase the number of electric vehicles to one million by 2030 and phasing out coal and peat electricity generation. 

To achieve a 51% emissions reduction by 2030, “significant” new measures will need to be identified and brought in across all sectors, the report said. 

The report outlined that a reduction of 16.5 Mt CO2 eq in agriculture between 2021 and 2030 is achievable by an accelerated uptake of measures including low emissions slurry spreading techniques and switching to stabilised urea fertilisers for crops and pasture. 

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If the 2030 target for 70% renewable energy is reached, the EPA projected this would lead to a one-quarter reduction in emissions from the energy industries.

Senior manager at the EPA, Stephen Treacy, said the country needs to “improve on its past record of performance” in implementing climate measures.

“As far back as 2015 EPA projections indicated that 2020 EU targets could be met with the implementation of identified measures,” he said.

Faster than anticipated emissions growth from key sectors and slow implementation of measures resulted in the target being missed by a wide margin.

The EPA projections are based on data provided by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and Teagasc. They were prepared in conjunction with the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).

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