Our emissions reduction of 1pc well short of 20pc target
Ireland will achieve "at best" a 1pc reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, well short of a 20pc legally-binding target, the Environmental Protection Agency says.
Use of coal and peat for power generation, coupled with a rise in agriculture emissions as the dairy herd expands, and growing numbers of cars on the roads, means the State is likely to be forced to pay millions of euro for missing EU and international targets.
Friends of the Earth warned that on top of fines, Government inaction on tackling emissions exposed citizens to "unacceptable levels of risk" from storms and floods exacerbated by climate change.
"Ireland agreed to its first climate pollution target exactly 20 years ago next week," director Oisín Coghlan said. "But this EPA report says that in 2025 our emissions will still be as high as they were in 1998.
"They will not have dropped by one tonne in almost 30 years. Ireland's long-running climate policy crisis is now an emergency."
The EPA report said progress would require new policies.
"The latest projections show that, at best, Ireland will only achieve a 1pc reduction by 2020 compared to the 20pc reduction target," it says, adding that under current projections, we will also miss our 2030 targets, which call for a 30pc drop.
Energy industry emissions - mainly power generation - are projected to grow from 2020 to 2025 with peat and biomass used to generate electricity.
Transport emissions will rise by up to 18pc by 2020, but will begin to fall if electric vehicle numbers increase.
The Director of the Office of Environmental Sustainability, Dr Eimear Cotter, said "significant new policy interventions" were needed.
"We are highlighting the need for a decisive move away from fossil fuels through significantly improved energy efficiency and the use of cleaner, renewable fuels," she said.
Assuming no additional measures are enacted, total emissions are projected to increase by 1pc and 4pc by 2020 and 2030 respectively.
It added that Ireland had exceeded its legal limit in 2016, and between 2013 and 2020 would produce 17 million tonnes of carbon above its allowed limit.
Head of policy at aid agency Trócaire Niamh Garvey said the effects of climate change were being seen in Ethiopia, where 10 million people need food aid because of drought.
"This is a human tragedy unfolding against a backdrop of seeming political indifference," she said.