IRELAND has been ranked the worst country in Europe on taking action to tackle climate change for the second year in a row.
The 2019 Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), launched at the UN climate talks in Poland, places Ireland 48th from 56 countries worldwide.
While up one place from last year the index, compiled by Germanwatch and the NewClimate Institute, ranks countries responsible for 90pc of global greenhouse emissions.
It takes into account emissions, renewable energy, energy use and climate policy.
Performance is based on assessments by NGOs and think tanks from the respective countries, to assess if nations are taking adequate action to limit global warming to below 2C by 2100, as set out in the Paris Climate deal.
National pledges to reduce emissions put the planet a 3C warming path, so the top three places of the CCPI are left unoccupied.
In relation to Ireland, the index says it remains within a group of “very low performing countries”.
“The performance in the greenhouse gas emissions category is rated very low and the country is also occupying a spot among the low-ranking performers in the energy use category,” it says.
On renewable energy, it is rated medium given that the share of renewables in electricity generation is rising and support schemes in these areas “recognise the value” of community participation.
The national experts also commended politicians for banning state investment in fossil fuel companies after deciding to pass the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill, and for the Citizens Assembly which set out measures to tackle climate.
“However, existing climate mitigation efforts will not enable Ireland to achieve either its EU 2020 or 2030 targets domestically. The long-standing lack of implementation of substantive measures to put the country on a well-below-2C pathway results in a very low rating for Ireland’s national policy performance,” it added.
A spokesperson for the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment said Minister Richard Bruton had already highlighted the fact that Ireland was “far off course”.
“Since being appointed, he has secured government approval to develop an all of government plan to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change. This plan will have actions across all sectors of society and will have timelines with clear lines of responsibility.This report reinforces the urgency of this work,” they said.
Policy Adviser for Trócaire, Cliona Sharkey, said policy makers needed to do more, including passing a bill to ban exploration of fossil fuels in Irish waters and implementing the recommendations of the Citizens Assembly.
In addition, a ‘carbon budget’ was required which set out the level of emissions which could be generated to meet climate goals.
Speaking from Poland, Clodagh Daly of Friends of the Irish Environment said: “This report highlights the gap Minister Bruton has to close between his new rhetoric on climate change and reality of Ireland’s approach to climate action.
“His ministerial colleagues don’t seem to have got the memo. Minister Bruton has successfully raised expectations in recent weeks, but as yet he hasn’t taken actions that will actually lower our emissions.”
Sweden, Morocco and Lithuania lead the ranking. Almost half of the G20 countries are in the group of very low performers including Japan (49), Turkey (50), Russian Federation (52), Canada (54), Australia (55), Korea (57) and - at the bottom of the index - USA (59) and Saudi Arabia (60).
Experts from the USA rated the climate policy of the Trump administration very low. However, positive signals have emerged due to climate action in several states and cities and because of the Democrats’ commitment to drive climate policy with their new majority in the House of Representatives, it added.