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Risk that Ireland won't meet its EU emissions targets

The EPA said that Ireland is at risk of not meeting targets that it is supposed to meet by 2020.

COULD IRELAND MISS its 2020 greenhouse gas emission targets?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released new figures today which indicate that while Ireland will comply with its Kyoto Protocol obligations (2008 – 2012), we are at significant risk of not meeting our EU 2020 targets “even under the best-case scenario”.


The EPA document contains projections for the period 2012 to 2020, which show:

  • Ireland can comply with its Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gas reduction obligations for the first commitment period (2008 – 2012).
  • Ireland is required to reduce its emissions by 20 per cent by 2020. However, these projections indicate that we will breach our annual obligations under the EU 2020 target from 2016 onwards in the best-case scenario.
  • Strong projected growth in emissions from transport and agriculture are the key contributors to this.

The figures show the projected trends for greenhouse gases up to 2020 and give a picture of Ireland’s ability to meet EU and international targets for greenhouse gas emissions.

They are available on the EPA website.

Dara Lynott, Deputy Director General, EPA said that reductions to date are primarily a direct result of the current economic recession and economic outlook for the future.

Ireland cannot rely on recession to meet our long term carbon reduction requirements and needs to develop as a low carbon and resource efficient economy. All sectors of the economy must contribute to emission reductions with a strong focus on those sectors – transport and agriculture – that dominate our emissions profile.

He said that significant reductions are needed in the transport and agriculture sectors, which are currently showing an increasing trend in emissions into the future.

According to the EPA, Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions profile is unique because of the dominance of the agriculture sector.

By 2020, transport and agriculture are projected to account for nearly 80 per cent of Ireland’s emissions not accounted for under the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Under the most ambitious reduction scenario, transport and agriculture emissions are projected to both increase by 12 per cent by 2020. This scenario assumes that ambitious targets are met for renewable fuel penetration, electric vehicle rollout and targets under the Food Harvest 2020.

According to the EPA, failure to deliver on any of the measures, or a reduction in their effectiveness, will mean higher emissions levels than projected.

The difficulties associated with meeting these criteria should thus not be underestimated.

Earlier this year, it emerged that Ireland may have to spend up to €300m over the next eight years to fulfill its obligations under these EU targets.

Read: Shortfall in greenhouse gas emissions target may cost Ireland €300m>

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