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watchdog warning

Ireland set to miss greenhouse emissions targets unless action taken, EPA warns

New policies are needed if Ireland is to meet carbon emissions targets, the EPA has said.

IRELAND IS FAILING to curb greenhouse gas emissions below both national and EU targets, a new report has warned. 

Even if new measures and policies are introduced, current government plans will not be enough to reach emissions targets, figures released by the Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) show. 

Under the worst-case scenario – if greenhouse gas emissions policy remains unchanged from the 2017 plan – the EPA projects that Ireland’s total greenhouse emissions are projected to increase by 1% by 2020 and 6% by 2030. 

While new measures, such as those set out in the government’s National Energy Efficiency Action Plan, will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the EPA predicts that these will only lead to a 10% reduction by 2030. 

Ireland has a target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050 in the electricity, building and transport sectors. 

The EU target of a 20% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 from 2005 levels is also likely to be missed. The report finds that Irish emissions might only be 6% below 2005 levels in 2020. 

Agriculture and transport are projected to be the two biggest causes of emissions in 2030, the report finds, accounting for 80% of all emissions in 2030. 

In a statement, the Director General of the EPA,  Laura Burke, said: “Our projections show that, in the long-term, there is a projected decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, as a result of climate mitigation policies and measures in the National Development Plan.”

However, she added that Ireland will need to fully implement both current policy and devise new plans if EU targets are to be met. 

Ireland’s agriculture industry will remain one of the main producers of emissions, according to the projections. The EPA predicts that agriculture emissions will grow steadily until 2030 as the size of the dairy herd increases. In 2030, the report states, agriculture will account for 38% of emissions. Even if currently proposed policies are implemented, emissions will increase by 3% from current levels by 2030.

During the European elections, a carbon tax and Ireland’s climate change policies became a sticking point in TV debates. The “green wave”, that saw the Green Party make significant gains in the local and European elections, was also widely attributed to a greater public concern about green issues. 

Following the results, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar promised a new approach to climate policy in the coming weeks. Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil candidates suggested during the European election that the Irish beef sector could still expand while also ensuring climate targets were met. 

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