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Ireland to fail on climate targets as lack of policy proves to be a stumbling block

The EPA’s Laura Burke said Ireland still needs to “grasp the nettle” of climate change.

IRELAND IS SET to fail on its climate commitments, as almost all sectors are on track to exceed their emissions ceilings for 2025 and 2030, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated.

Agriculture, Electricity Transport and Industry are all way off meeting their emissions targets.

The country’s first two carbon budgets will not be met by a significant margin.

The EPA today published its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions projections for 2022-2040.

Its analysis shows that Ireland does not currently have the policies in place to meet its big picture climate commitments.

Reacting to the report, the Social Democrats Climate Spokesperson Jennifer Whitmore said:

The Government excels at climate rhetoric, but fails dismally at climate action”. 

“We have less than seven years to meet our legally binding climate targets. If we fail, not only will be country face a significant financial penalty, but our natural world and biodiversity will suffer irreversible harm,” she added. 

The EPA states that Ireland will achieve a reduction of 29% in GHG by 2030, which is a long way of our target of 51%.

The 29% reduction will only happen if Ireland fully implements the actions outlined in the 2023 Climate Action Plan, some of which aren’t backed up by policy, including the diversification of agriculture.

The best case scenario under the current climate policies and measures will still see Ireland fall short of its ambition to reduce emissions by 51% under the Climate Act.

The only sector on track to achieve reductions in line with its emission ceiling is residential buildings.

The Director General of the EPA, Laura Burke said that Ireland still needs to “grasp the nettle of climate change,” so it can realise the “significant opportunities and social and economic co-benefits for people, communities and business that can be delivered through innovation and decarbonisation. “

Burke further said that Ireland is set to miss its 2030 climate targets “unless all sectors of the economy deliver emission reductions in the short term and sustain this delivery in the future”.

“We’re in the third year of the first Carbon Budget period, with only seven more years left to 2030. A continued lack of delivery of large-scale practical actions to decarbonise activities in all sectors will see us exceed our carbon budgets.

Burke clarified that the EPA could not include all of the actions set out under the Climate Action Plan in its projections, because some of them do not have delivery timelines, and little progress has been made to date on putting related policies in place.

The EPA’s projections see the agricultural sector achieving emissions reductions of between 4 and 20% over 2021-2030. It says that the sector will only achieve the higher end of this projection if all the measures in the action plan, AgClimatise and MACC are in place. GHG savings will come from measures including switching to different fertilisers, limits of nitrogen fertiliser usage and bovine feed additives.

Transport is projected to make a greater reduction of 35% if current policies are implemented. These include over 940,000 electric vehicles being on our roads by 2030, and an increase in biofuel blend rates.

The energy sector is being hampered in its reduction efforts by our continued dependency on coal use, which has been impacted by the war in Ukraine and the slow rollout of renewable energy initiatives.

Despite this, increased renewable energy generation, from wind and solar, if delivered as planned, could reduce energy emissions by 60% and achieve over 80% renewable electricity generation by 2030.

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