We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Sam Boal
Green Ceilings

Eamon Ryan says sectoral emissions limits to 'hopefully' be done by end of month

The targets were first outlined last November in the Climate Action Plan.

DETAILED SECTORAL EMISSIONS limits should “hopefully” be finalised by the end of this month, according to the Minister for Climate.

Minister Eamon Ryan has said that the government is aiming to approve the sector-by-sector limits, which will outline how far sectors like electricity, transport and agriculture must reduce their emissions, by the last Cabinet meeting before the summer.

It was previously expected that the legally-binding limits would be agreed on before the Dáil commenced its summer recess but the House rose for summer on Thursday. 

Before that, one minister had indicated they should be presented for approval by the end of June.

The targets were first outlined last November in the Climate Action Plan, which set out ranges for what level of reduction each sector would be expected to make by 2030 compared to 2018:

  • Electricity – 62% to 81%
  • Transport – 42% to 50%
  • Buildings – 44% to 56%
  • Industry – 29% to 41%
  • Agriculture – 22% to 30%
  • Land use, land use change and forestry – 37% to 58%

“We cannot lose our environment. We have to do it not just for climate reasons, but also to restore water quality, to restore biodiversity – we’ve every reason to make this change,” Ryan said, speaking to RTÉ Radio One’s This Week programme this afternoon.

The sectoral ceilings come as part of Ireland’s first-ever carbon budgets which chart a path to reducing greenhouse gas emissions up to 2035.

The Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action scrutinsed the plans at the start of this year and the Dáil gave its sign-off in April. Cabinet must now approve the final sectoral limits.

A pinch point in discussions is how far agriculture – the largest emitter – will be told to cut its emissions and whether it may be required to reduce herd numbers.

The sector has pushed back against the proposed ceilings, particularly at the higher end of the range. IFA Deputy President Brian Rushe told the Oireachtas Committee that the lower 22% target would be “extremely challenging” but “achievable”.

Ryan said recent discussions have centred around how emissions can be reduced while also increasing farmers’ incomes.

“We have to focus on the level of emissions reduction and anything that agriculture doesn’t do, other sectors are going have to do more. But for the agriculture sector itself, the real key metric and what we’re spending a lot of time discussing is how could we reduce emissions and increase income to farmers at the same time.

“The three ways in particular a lot of focus attention has been on are – could we switch to anaerobic type digestion, that’s where you use grass and other waste materials and we create our own biomethane gas so that we don’t have to import Russian or other gas and that we have an income to the farms.

“Secondly, can we give a price to farmers for what’s called carbon farming, where you start to pay farmers for storing carbon in the soils.

“And thirdly, a new form of forestation, a new form of native woodlands that farmers are involved in planting which again gives them the carbon credits that they can cash in on and also a fuel supply into the farm into the future.”

When pressed on whether herd numbers may need to be reduced, the minister said that some of the above measures “would increase income to Irish farming but would also see a reduction in animal numbers”.

Ireland’s overall climate target is to bring emissions down by 55% by 2030 compared to 2018 and to reach net zero by 2050.

Globally, greenhouse gas emissions must be substantially and rapidly reduced to avoid catastrophic consequences of the climate crisis.

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that the world has the tools and knowledge to combat the crisis but that it must turn those into action.

“What we’ve been talking about for decades is not coming to pass. I was always startled when I saw some of the projections for what would happened in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, and it’s happening now,” Ryan said.

“Those hundreds of deaths we’ve seen in Portugal and Spain in the last week, the prospect of desertification of large parts of our European continent, particularly the Mediterranean region, and the impact and effect that would have.

“We cannot absolve ourselves and walk away and say we’re not going do anything about this. And also on our own island, we’ve gone from 500 pristine river systems down to 20.

“I think the Irish people, I think the Irish farming community, I think everyone here realises that we can’t destroy our own natural world. We have a beautiful island, a green island, that we’ve a responsibility to look after, all of us.”

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel