Leadership 'lacking' as emissions rise despite pledges
Greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise despite Government pledges to take action on climate change.
New figures from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) show that emissions rose 3.5pc, or by just over two million tonnes, last year, with "significant" increases across energy, transport and agriculture.
The EPA warned that the trends are rising, making Ireland's efforts to decarbonise the economy "ever more difficult".Emissions are now at the same level as in 2009, and we are increasingly likely to be hit with fines for missing EU targets.
The cost of failing to comply with pledges to reduce emissions by 2020 is likely to range between €148m and €455m, according to Dr Paul Deane, a research fellow at UCC.
The EPA said that decarbonising the economy would take place only by transformation of our energy, agriculture and transport systems.
"We need to adopt a much greater sense of urgency about reducing our dependence on fossil fuels while radically improving energy efficiency," said director of environmental sustainability Dr Eimear Cotter.
"In relation to agriculture, Ireland must optimise agricultural production to ensure long-term environmental integrity and sustainability. The growth in this sector, particularly for dairy and other cattle, points to very significant risks in relation to meeting our decarbonisation objectives."
The figures show that greenhouse gas emissions "increased significantly" in 2016, following a "substantial increase" in 2015. National emissions now total 61.19 million tonnes, 3.5pc above 2015 levels.
In agriculture, emissions rose by 2.7pc, driven by a higher number of dairy cows that reflects national plans to expand milk production.
Transport emissions were up 3.7pc, or 13pc over the last four years, and showed "no sign of abatement" in the short term. Energy emissions were up 6.1pc, driven by an increase in demand for electricity, but also lower power generation from renewable sources.
Friends of the Earth said Ireland was among the worst-performing EU countries on climate, and was the only member state where emissions continued to rise.
"These figures confirm the complete lack of political leadership," it said.
While the National Mitigation Plan sets out a range of actions needed to reduce emissions, the EPA said that plan needed "investment and action".