Tuesday 15 October 2019

Cost of failing on carbon and energy targets to rise by up to €124m next year

Ireland is meant to have cut carbon emissions by 20pc by next year. Stock Image
Ireland is meant to have cut carbon emissions by 20pc by next year. Stock Image

Caroline O'Doherty

Failure to meet next year's carbon emission and renewable energy targets could cost the country up to €124m extra in buy-out penalties.

That's on top of the €121m already spent on putting aside carbon credits in anticipation of missing the key 2020 requirements.

Ireland is meant to have cut carbon emissions by 20pc by next year compared with 2005, but emissions grew during the boom years, dipped only because of recession and have been on the rise again with the economic recovery.

The Government began buying 'carbon credits' in 2006 - a way for countries to buy their way out of missing their targets - and has now amassed €89.5m worth of credits.

It has also put €31.8m into funds for carbon reducing projects, another mechanism for countries to make up for their poor performance.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) found that €2m to €14m more will have to be spent on credits to fully make up for the carbon cut shortfall, plus up to €110m on purchases called 'statistical transfers' for missing renewable energy targets.

Meanwhile, the Exchequer received €367m from 2013 to 2018 from carbon credits bought by power plants, heavy industries and factories that also had to buy their way out of exceeding their carbon caps.

The CAG says that although EU rules require that at least half of that money must be spent on climate and energy programmes, there is "a low level of detail on the application of revenue to projects aimed at reducing emissions".

Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee Seán Fleming said the committee would be asking questions about the way that money was spent and also how the €431m the State received last year from carbon tax was used.

Irish Independent

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