Farm Ireland

Thursday 22 March 2018

Ireland's new climate targets to focus on the energy industry

The EU has agreed to a 40pc reduction on 1990 greenhouse gas emission levels by 2030. Photo: PA
The EU has agreed to a 40pc reduction on 1990 greenhouse gas emission levels by 2030. Photo: PA

Sean Duffy

NEW EU proposals have set new targets for member countries to reduce their energy emissions before 2030.

The proposals relate to the agreement reached at last year's Paris climate talks where 196 countries signed up for joint action aimed at keeping global warming from rising 2C above pre-industrial levels.

The EU has agreed to a 40pc reduction on 1990 greenhouse gas emission levels by 2030. Each member state has been given an individual reduction target, which take into account a range of factors aimed at sharing the burden as fairly as possible.

EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: "The national binding targets we are proposing are fair, flexible and realistic.

"They set the right incentives to unleash investments in sectors like transport, agriculture, buildings and waste management. With these proposals, we are showing that we have done our homework and that we keep our promises."

In its latest briefing on climate change, the European Commission (EC) proposed that Ireland reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30pc compared to 2005.

Ireland's targets are the 12th highest in the EU overall.

Latest forecasts indicate that European greenhouse gas emissions will be 26pc lower in 2020 than the levels recorded in 1990. In 2030 emissions will be 35pc lower and will fall by 48pc by 2050. The UK will have to cut emissions by 37pc, while The Netherlands and Denmark will have to reduce their greenhouse gas output by 36pc and 38pc respectively in order to meet the 2030 objectives.

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Germany will be required to reduce its emissions by 38pc, France by 37pc and Italy by 33pc. Less industrialised countries with lower levels of GDP per capita get more leeway, with Spain and Greece required to reduce emissions by 26pc and 16pc respectively.

Under the Paris initiative, the EU must derive at least 20pc of its overall energy supply from renewable energy sources by 2020. Documents published last week revealed that Europe is already behind on those targets.

Renewable energy will account for 19pc of Europe's total energy generation in 2020, it's now thought. That figure will rise to 25pc in 2030, and 36pc by 2050.

The EC indicated that wind will account for the largest proportion of renewable energy over that time, yet solar and biomass are also forecasted to increase, while the use of nuclear energy will be reduced. Ireland faces a challenge in meeting its renewable obligations by 2020.

Eurostat figures show the country's renewable sector accounted for 8.6pc of its overall energy output in 2014, well below the 16pc required by 2020.

Germany is 4pc lower than its target of 18pc, while France must improve its output by almost 10pc to meet its objective of 23pc.

The UK needs to more than double its production of renewable energy to meet the target of 15pc of total energy output. The EC will also seek to stimulate additional action from agriculture. This will allow up to 280 million tonnes CO2 to be credited in relation to the use of agricultural land.

Ireland has been granted a flexibility score of 5.8pc on its overall emissions target because of the large scale nature of agriculture in the country.

This is the highest amount of flexibility given by the EC to any member state but is dependent on Ireland's efforts in areas such as afforestation.

Irish Independent