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Sunday 24 September 2017

EU agency warns Ireland will miss climate targets

Laura Burke, director general of the EPA, at the EPA offices in Clonskeagh Photo: Frank McGrath
Laura Burke, director general of the EPA, at the EPA offices in Clonskeagh Photo: Frank McGrath
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

Rising emissions from agriculture and transport will mean Ireland will miss EU 2020 targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has warned that new measures are needed to allow the State transition to a low-carbon economy, and that instead of reducing emissions by 20pc by 2020, we will be just 4-6pc below.

This leaves the State open to EU fines, and will make meeting more challenging targets by 2030 more difficult. Agriculture and Transport will account for the largest share of emissions, and are expected to grow.

EPA Director General Laura Burke criticised Government policies, saying they were not sufficient to reduce emissions.

“The EPA’s latest greenhouse gas projections are a disappointing indicator that the current range of policy measures to reduce emissions and to meet compliance obligations are failing in an improving economy,” she said.

“In addition, Ireland has a national policy position that commits us to reducing our carbon emissions by at least 80pc compared to 1990 levels by 2050 across the electricity generation, built environment and transport sectors, while achieving carbon neutrality in the agriculture and land use sectors.

“If we are to realise this policy position and our aspirations to transition to a low carbon economy, then any new measures to be included in the upcoming and future National Mitigation plans need to be innovative and effective to get Irelands emissions back on a sustainable trajectory.”

New obligations for Ireland to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the years 2021-2030 are expected to be agreed at EU level in 2017.

The further away Ireland is from the 20pc reduction target in 2020, the more difficult the compliance challenges in the following decade are likely to become. Lack of progress also leaves the State open to EU fines.

Agriculture and transport are projected to account for 74pc of Ireland’s non-ETS sector emissions in 2020, with agriculture accounting for 45pc and transport 29pc. ETS sector emissions from heavy industry and power generation are subject to a separate accounting mechanism.

Agriculture emissions are projected to increase by 4 – 5pc over 2015 levels by 2020, and transport by 10 – 12pc.

Friends of the Earth said new policies were needed.

“These figures highlight the complete inadequacy of Minister Naughten’s draft climate plan,” a spokesman said.

“We hope now the penny will finally drop in Government buildings that the EPA is right when it says we need a transformation. Minister Naughten needs to come back with a new plan that delivers it.”

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