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Thursday 18 October 2018

Government advisors call for use of coal and turf to be phased out

Bringing in the turf for winter Williamstown Bog Co. Westmeath. Picture; Gerry Mooney
Bringing in the turf for winter Williamstown Bog Co. Westmeath. Picture; Gerry Mooney
Bringing in the turf for winter Williamstown Bog Co. Westmeath. Picture; Gerry Mooney
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

IRELAND needs to phase out use of coal and turf for heating and power generation and invest in a low-carbon car and public transport fleet to meet climate change targets.

The first annual review from the Climate Change Advisory Council sharply criticises government action to date, saying Ireland will miss its 2020 targets “by a substantial margin” and is “not on track” to decarbonise the economy by 2050, despite pledging to do so under the Paris climate deal.

“The council’s assessment of progress to date on meeting our climate change commitments clearly shows that Ireland will miss its agreed emissions reduction target for 2020 by a substantial margin,” it says.

“Without major new policies and measures, Ireland will also miss both its proposed 2030 EU target and its objective of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide by at least 80pc relative to 1990 levels by 2050 by a very large margin. Both the pace and scale of emissions reduction need to be accelerated across all sectors.”

Actions outlined in the so-called National Mitigation Plan “do not put Ireland on a pathway to achieve our 2020 targets or our long term decarbonisation objective,” council chair Professor John Fitzgerald said.

The review says that unless new policies and measures are introduced as a matter of urgency, emissions will continue to rise. Reductions needed to be “accelerated” across all sectors of the economy.

The burning of coal and peat should end to help cut emissions, state advisers said
The burning of coal and peat should end to help cut emissions, state advisers said

“Ireland is still over-reliant on fossil fuels,” Professor Fitzgerald said. “Ireland has the third highest emissions per capita for residential energy use in the EU, reflecting high dependence on oil, coal and peat. A clear medium-term strategy to phase out fossil fuels in the electricity, transport and residential sectors is required.

“There is an urgent requirement for new policies and measures, and action beyond what is committed to in the National Mitigation Plan. These new measures should include a substantial increase in the carbon tax, and a phasing out of coal and peat for both residential heating and power generation.

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“In particular, the subsidy for peat-fired electricity generation should be ended. In transport, investments in public transport fleets should avoid fossil fuel lock-in while overall capital investment should be rebalanced away from roads towards public transport.”

The independent Climate Change Advisory Council was established under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015. It is tasked with advising the Government on national policy relating to climate change.

Among the key measures it proposes include incentivising the take-up of electric vehicles, and combatting urban sprawl to allow people commute to work and education using public transport, cycling or walking.

The adequacy of the electric vehicle charging network is required, and agriculture needs to “urgently adopt and implement” all cost-effective measures.

A review of official data shows that emissions are rising as the economy grows, with particular concern around transport and agriculture. There are also concerns about use of coal and peat to generate electricity.


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