Without measures, without a clue – Ireland will miss its EU Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets

7th March 2016
Press Release

Today’s EPA Report "Ireland's Greenhouse Gas Emissions to 2020 - An update" indicates that, barring a miracle, Ireland is not going meet its 2020 targets. Note [1].

This means potential fines running into billions of euros and makes it more difficult to meet our EU 2030 targets and achieve the necessary decarbonisation by 2050. Once more, An Taisce calls for a Department of Climate Action in whatever new Government is formed, to take responsibility for achieving the targets and giving the next generations the futures they deserve. Note [2]

Despite flooding disasters, record global temperatures in 2015 and the historic Paris Agreement last December, Election 2016 was notable for the deafening silence, both from politicians and the media, on the crunch environment and climate change issues of our time.

The chickens of this complacent approach have come home to roost in the confirmation today by the EPA that Ireland is hopelessly off track regarding our legally mandated EU 2020 emissions reductions targets.

Our two main sectors accounting for the majority of Ireland’s non-traded emissions are Agriculture and Transport; these two alone will account for a whopping 76% of our non-ETS emissions by 2020. Yet, instead of the sharp reductions we are legally mandated to achieve, agriculture is due to increase its emissions by 6-7%, while transport emissions are set to climb by between 10-16% versus their 2014 levels.

These are disastrous findings, which are clearly indicative of rudderless government policy in thrall to special interests in recent years. Ireland’s politicians and public sector have failed utterly to ‘square the circle’ of aggressively promoting emissions-intensive economic activities, such as Food Wise 2025 and capitulating in transport policy to the private car lobby.

The 2020 emissions targets of 20% cuts are the easiest this country will ever face; by 2030, the targets rise steeply, to 40%, with total decarbonisation of our entire economic system mandated by 2050.

Rather than developing policies and implementing measures that will deliver on these critical reductions, government climate policy is a chaotic mess of conflicting signals and special pleading.

There is little in any of the election manifestos of the parties currently vying to form the next government to indicate that they have any idea how to transition the Irish economy onto a sustainable, low emissions, energy-independent pathway.

What is perhaps even more disturbing is how few newly elected TDs have had anything at all to say about their vision for a future where the threat of climate change to our complacent existence has been successfully met by courageous action involving all sectors of Irish society working together towards the common good.

John Gibbons, spokesperson for An Taisce’s Climate Change Committee stated “With climate change, inaction is the most dangerous policy of all. This EPA report is yet another confirmation that Ireland is treating Climate Change with dangerous indifference.”

He continued “As the IPCC and other expert international agencies have confirmed, a business-as-usual approach to emissions means sure and certain disaster, or what the IPCC described as: “pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.” Note [3]

ENDS

John Gibbons, An Taisce Climate Change Committee Tel: +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. http://www.epa.ie/pubs/reports/air/airemissions/irelandsgreenhousegasemissionsto2020anupdate.html#.Vt269tBPSfh
  2. http://www.antaisce.org/articles/an-taisce-calls-for-department-of-climate-action
  3. https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/SYR_AR5_FINAL_full.pdf