Pressure to meet targets on emissions
IRELAND will have to ramp up investment in renewable energy and reduce emissions to meet new EU targets aimed at tackling dangerous climate change.
The European Commission has proposed cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40pc by 2030, an increase over previous targets, but its plans have been criticised as lacking ambition.
The Climate Change package also includes a requirement that 27pc of all energy across the EU is produced from renewables including wind, but concerns have been raised at the lack of targets for individual member states.
Countries which fail to meet the targets face the prospect of being hit with fines.
Climate change expert Prof John Sweeney, from NUI Maynooth, said the overall package was a "bit disappointing" and failed to set out a roadmap on preventing global temperatures rising by more than 2C by 2050.
Scientists believe that if average temperatures rise beyond this figure, the effects of climate change will be irreversible.
The Irish Wind Energy Association gave a guarded welcome, saying there was a need for binding targets for renewables, while the Green Party said the plan was "unambitious and uncertain".
However, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) said the targets proposed were "more demanding" and reinforced the case for continuing to invest in renewables.
The details have to be agreed by EU leaders before becoming binding.