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Ireland to breach EU targets for CO2 emissions

The Environmental Protection Agency’s latest projections show that while Ireland will comply with its Kyoto obligations, it is expected to breach its annual obligations under the EU 2020 target.

Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

IRELAND IS EXPECTED to breach its annual obligations under the EU 2020 target for CO2 emissions from 2017 onwards “in the best scenario”, according to the latest Environmental Protection Agency projections.

This is despite the fact that emissions have dropped due to the economic downturn.

The EPA said today that its projections show that Ireland will comply with its Kyoto obligations with regard to greenhouse gas emissions, but total emissions are projected to be 4.1 to 7.8 million tonnes of CO2eq above the EU 2020 target.

Emissions from agriculture are projected to increase by 7.0 per cent by 2020 (on 2010 levels) which shows the projected impact of Food Harvest 2020 and removal of EU milk quota.

The EPA’s greenhouse gas emissions projections for the period 2011 to 2020 will be submitted to the EU as required.

Commenting on the figures Laura Burke, Director General, EPA said:

The projections show a reduction in Ireland’s distance to target under the Kyoto Protocol and the EU 2020 targets. This reflects a combination of the effects of the economic recession as well as assumptions on the full implementation of relevant Government policies. Failure to deliver on the measures outlined in Government policies will result in higher emissions than predicted.

She continued:

Ireland cannot rely on recession to meet our long term carbon reduction requirements and needs to develop as a low carbon economy.  In order to ensure that our future economic growth is sustainable it must be more resource-efficient and decoupled from increases in emissions.

The EPA says its projections show a total ‘distance to target’ for the Kyoto Protocol period of between 4.1 and 5.1 million tonnes of CO2eq, compared to 6.3 to 8.1 million tonnes of CO2eq in the April 2011 projections.

It says that the reduction is primarily due to a reduction in transport emissions over the 2008-2012 period.

Under the EU Commission’s ‘Energy and Climate Package’,  Ireland is required to deliver a 20 per cent reduction in non-ETS greenhouse gas emissions by 2020  and keep emissions below annual limits over the period 2013-2020.

Transport and agriculture are projected to account for 75 per cent of total non-ETS emissions by 2020, says the EPA.

This illustrates the important role that both transport and agriculture will have to play in developing mitigation options for reducing emissions in Ireland and for meeting our 2020 EU targets.

Growth in transport emissions is projected to slow significantly, which the EPA attributes to a slowdown in economic growth.

The EPA Projections of greenhouse gas emissions to 2020 are available on the EPA website.

Read: Transport pollution falls by 10 per cent in recession>

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