Another EPA GreenHouse Gas report fails Government Climate Change Policy

31st May 2018
Press Release

The EPA’s projections, published today[1], reveal the colossal scale of Ireland’s collective political failure to rein in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in line with our legally binding EU and global commitments.

It is quite staggering to consider that instead of achieving the modest initial target of reducing our national GHG emissions by 20% versus 2005 levels, the EPA today confirms that “at best”, we will have only managed a negligible 1% emissions cut by 2020.

In terms of our performance on tackling the dangerous and rapidly escalating threats posed by climate change, Ireland has moved from being an outlier to, essentially, a rogue state on the international stage.

Even worse, the EPA projects that emissions from Ireland’s powergen sector are to “grow strongly” between 2020-2025, largely thanks to the activities of Bord Na Móna in co-firing peat and biomass as part of its risible ‘Naturally Driven’ programme.

Transport emissions are also set to spiral from now to 2030, reflecting a complete failure both of planning and imagination on the part of government and local authorities. The underfunding of public transport, the zero progress on electrifying our buses and the chronic neglect of cycling as the ultimate low-carbon transport alternative are all indictments of policies driven by the motor and road-building industries.

Despite much hot air from the agri-food sector and Minister Creed about claimed de-coupling of growth in production from emissions, the data tells a different tale. The EPA singles out the expansion of the national dairy herd as major part of the reason agriculture emissions are set to increase by 3-4% by 2020 and 6-7% by 2030.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar earlier this year told the European Parliament that he was “not proud” of Ireland’s failure to seriously address climate change, describing us as a “laggard”. He will be even more embarrassed by the abject scale of policy failure as described in these EPA projections.

The recent Citizens’ Assembly [2] last November endorsed a series of strong actions to place climate action at the heart of the Irish political system.

John Gibbons An Taisce Climate Change Committee spokesperson stated "Politicians need to look again at what the public is demanding, and to act in accordance with the will of the Irish people, rather than catering to the short term demands of a handful of well-connected lobby groups. These figures are what non-leadership looks like."

He continued "Why have the Taoiseach and Minister Naughten failed to make even the slightest impression of grasping the need to get real about climate change? Why has the Cabinet allowed this abysmal performance right across all key sectors of the Irish economy."

“Instead, Minister Naughten has squandered scarce political capital in Brussels in special pleading for vested interests, especially in the agri-food sector. We deserve and we demand better than this from our political representatives”, Gibbons added.

An Taisce applauds the EPA for its candour in presenting these projections, but we do not share their optimism that the government’s National Development and National Mitigation Plans will have any impact whatever on our dire performance.

For further information, contact:
John Gibbons, An Taisce Climate Change Committee: +353 87 233 2689
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce. Tel: +353 87 241 1995
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
www.antaisce.org

Notes

  1. We need to move away from fossil fuels, EPA emissions projections show. http://epa.ie/newsandevents/news/name,64049,en.html
  2. https://www.citizensassembly.ie/en/News/Publication-of-Citizens-Assembly-Final-Report-on-How-the-State-can-make-Ireland-a-Leader-in-Tackling-Climate-Change.html

About An Taisce

An Taisce is a charity that works to preserve and protect Ireland's natural and built heritage. We are an independent charitable voice for the environment and for heritage issues. We are not a government body, semi-state or agency. Founded in 1948, we are one of Ireland’s oldest and largest environmental organisations.