Phil Hogan: ‘Huge challenge’ to cut our emission levels
IRELAND faces a "huge challenge" to cut carbon dioxide emissions to help prevent dangerous climate change.
Environment Minister Phil Hogan has said that unless the country moves towards a low-carbon path, it will not achieve any competitive advantage in the emerging green global economy.
Speaking at the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) annual conference this morning, he said the major challenge was reducing emissions from agriculture and transport.
"A major issue which Ireland must address is the fact that, within the EU, we have a distinct greenhouse gas emissions profile due to a number of factors including the high share of our emissions which are agriculture-related," he said.
"This is not because we have an inefficient agriculture sector. Quite the contrary. We have a carbon-efficient agriculture and food sector, it is simply due to the scale of our agriculture industry in our overall economy."
Mr Hogan's comments came just weeks before delegates gather in Warsaw for an UN climate conference which is aimed at reaching a global deal to reduce emissions.
In the last decade, temperatures across Europe have risen an average of 1.3C, compared with a global rise of 0.8C.
Mr Hogan said he expected to receive a report from the Dail Environment committee in the coming weeks which would help shape the government's climate policies.
Separately, Mr Hogan said that local authorities and Irish Water would enter 12-year agreements from next January where city and county councils would provide water services on behalf of the semi-state company.
Irish Water will be responsible for delivering new water projects, to help modernise the network. Investment would "ramp up significantly" from the €326m currently spent every year.
He also said he planned to publish a bill early next year which would create the Office for Planning Regulation, a key recommendation of the Mahon Tribunal which called for an independent planning regulator.
The new office would have "significant implications" for the planning system, he said, with "inevitable consequences" for the existing system.