Wednesday 22 November 2017

Companies could spurn Ireland over lack of climate policies

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Paul Melia

Paul Melia

International firms committed to tackling global warming may not invest in Ireland unless the Government introduces policies to move to a low-carbon economy.

In a stark warning and criticism of the Government's climate policies, the Climate Change Advisory Council says there needs to be "concrete commitments" to reduce emissions, including phasing out use of petrol and diesel engines and decarbonisation of electricity generation.

An independent body, the council is tasked with advising the Government on national policy relating to climate change. In a review of the Government's National Mitigation Plan (NMP), which has been criticised for lacking ambition and being a list of options as opposed to a policy document, it says there is a need for 'sectoral goals', with chair Professor John Fitzgerald saying that action is needed.

"We would like more progress," he said. "Things are going in the wrong direction. We need major policy initiatives if we are to meet our (climate change) targets. We are not progressing with 2020 targets. It's true we can buy our way out of our 2020 targets by buying credits, but the longer we take for action the more expensive it may be. The loopholes may not be sensible."

The report says Ireland's "small open economy" depends to a "large degree" on international trade and foreign direct investment. Global developments in climate policy would have an indirect impact on Ireland, with many multinationals based here having made pledges to act on climate change.

"It is likely that foreign direct investment will be influenced by Ireland's reputation in addressing climate change," the periodic review says.

"It is in Ireland's interest not only that it is recognised as a positive participant in addressing climate change, but also that this is part of a global effort. While some of these policies will require significant investment, there are likely to be co-benefits from implementation including benefits for health."

The council also says that buildings should be subject to deep retrofits to reduce emissions, and options to reduce emissions from agriculture must be identified and deployed.

Christian Aid said "immediate action" was needed, and that the NMP did not "reflect the level of action" committed to under the Paris Agreement.

Irish Independent

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