TAXPAYERS face having to fork out more than €270m so that Ireland can "buy its way" into meeting the Kyoto agreement on greenhouse gas emissions.
Ireland is set to overshoot its Kyoto targets by almost 100pc as things stand, according to the latest figures from the European Commission.
CO2 emissions in Ireland, by 2012, will be more than 22.5pc above 1990 levels.
This is almost twice the Kyoto target of 13pc.
However, if the Government undertakes additional policies and measures sent by it to the EU Commission, we would be 0.7pc below the target in 2010, the European Environment Agency said yesterday.
These measures include reductions in energy consumption, less emissions, particularly from transport, significantly increased renewable energy sources and the purchase of carbon credits.
Crucially though, the Government will still have to "buy its way" out of trouble in meeting the agreed target.
This involved buying carbon credits in a complicated international trading system for countries that will not meet their targets.
The Government has set aside a total of €270m to foot this bill, it was revealed yesterday.
However, this cost could rise significantly if the price of a tonne of carbon rises under the system. Some estimates have even put it as high as €500m.
A spokesman for Environment Minister John Gormley said yesterday that, one way or another, Ireland will meet its Kyoto target.
The Government wanted to do this without having to spend a huge sum of money buying credits to make up the deficit.
The aim was to meet the target by reducing the reliance on buying carbon credits in 2010.
If the Government fails to meet the Kyoto targets, it faces massive annual fines running into hundreds of millions of euros.