Ireland’s reputation in the international community has been badly damaged in recent years by revelations of our tolerance for ‘creative accounting’ that has allowed foreign firms, including vulture funds masquerading as charities, to avoid paying tax on billions of euros of income.

Now, it seems that Ireland has done it again, and this time the creative accounting is in the series of loopholes the Irish government has negotiated with the EU to allow us to almost completely shirk all requirements on carbon emissions reductions.

According to a newly built ‘Carbon Market Watch’ online tool [1][2] developed by Transport & Environment (Brussels based NGO), Ireland has managed to water down its commitment to carbon cuts from 2020 to 2030 to a ludicrous 0.4%, a completely meaningless action that simply serves to sabotage EU-wide efforts to stem dangerous climate change in the little time remaining.

No other EU country has achieved as outrageous a reduction in its carbon-cutting obligations. According to the T&E online calculator, the ‘total loopholes’ exploited by Ireland between now and 2030 amount to almost 70 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO₂). Across the EU28, the average 2030 target will be 23%, down from the slated 30% ambition, but still light years ahead of Ireland’s contribution.

The biggest sleight of hand that Ireland has availed of to fiddle the figures is to claim huge allowances for ‘LULUCF offsets’. These are credits for changes in land use, specifically tree planting or managing cropland and grassland, to offset agricultural and other emissions.

However, any forestry expansion being proposed in Ireland is simply to grow forestry that will within a decade or two be then cut down and burned as biomass, meaning much of the alleged ‘carbon savings’ go straight back into the atmosphere as CO₂.

Further, when considering ‘land use’ and carbon, no account has been taken of the millions of tons in annual carbon emissions emanating from the draining and cutting of bogs by Bord Na Mona as well as hundreds of other individuals and contractors engaged in government-sanctioned (and subsidised) widespread bog destruction.

“Attention has rightly been drawn in recent weeks to the Trump administration’s shameful and unprecedented assault on the science and reality of climate change, but in reality, what the Irish government is doing ‘below the radar’ is arguably every bit as reckless and irresponsible”, according to John Gibbons of An Taisce’s Climate Change Committee.

Newly published international research[3], with input from Prof Peter Thorne, NUI Maynooth, has established that globally, temperatures in 2015 were a full 1.0ºC over pre-industrial averages, with 2017 1.1ºC over pre-industrial, meaning even more urgent carbon cuts across all sectors are going to be required.

“This government, headed by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, is leading Ireland further and further down a road to climate ruin. As the Taoiseach himself said in November 2015: “Either we act now or it will be too late to curb rising temperatures and limit the damage to our planet”. The time for excuses and equivocation is over, it’s time the Irish public demanded Mr Kenny and his government made good on his promises”, John Gibbons concluded.


John Gibbons, An Taisce Climate Change Committee. Tel: +353 87 233 2689
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce. Tel: +353 87 241 1995
email: [email protected]
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland

[1] Effort Sharing Emissions Calculator
[2] Image of Effort Sharing Emissions Calculator
[3] Journal of the American Metrological Society

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.