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Carbon cuts share-out talks increase as July deadline looms


Stock image. Photo: Getty

Stock image. Photo: Getty

Stock image. Photo: Getty

Talks between Government departments on sharing the burden of emissions cuts are reaching a critical phase ahead of the summer recess.

Each department will be set a maximum level of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases the activities under its control can produce.

These are called sectoral emissions ceilings. Working groups of senior officials assisted by external climate scientists and energy experts are trying to work out where the levels or ceilings should be set. When all the allowable emissions are added up, they cannot exceed a total national ‘carbon budget’.

Apart from the technical challenges involved in setting achievable targets, the officials have to keep an eye on the cost impact of their proposals and how fairly they spread the burden of cuts. 

Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue has said an indicative range of targets signalled late last year are too tough for his department.

He says he will resist any attempt to push on him the target at the higher end of the range.

That’s despite warnings from emissions experts in the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that maximum cuts are needed from farming. 

The Government is already playing catch-up as the first carbon budget was to cover the period 2021-2025 and a year and a half has passed without its implementation.

According to the EPA, total national emissions rose by 6pc last year when, under the first carbon budget, there is meant to be an average annual decrease of 4.8pc. The average annual cut rises to 8.3pc in the second carbon budget which covers 2026-2030.

Still, the target of completing talks by mid-July looks optimistic.

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If the first challenge is to get Government agreement on the sectoral emissions ceilings, the second will be getting ministers to live within their allotted thresholds.

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