Tuesday 22 October 2019

We're 'far off course' for meeting climate change targets

Ireland finishes bottom of league in Europe

An environmental activist protests against fossil fuel in front of the the venue of the COP24 UN Climate Change Conference 2018 in Katowice, Poland. Photo: REUTERS
An environmental activist protests against fossil fuel in front of the the venue of the COP24 UN Climate Change Conference 2018 in Katowice, Poland. Photo: REUTERS
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

The Government has admitted Ireland is "far off course" in tackling climate change as a new report ranks the State the worst performer in the EU.

The 2019 Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), launched at the UN climate talks in Poland, places Ireland 48th from 56 countries worldwide, the second year in a row it has received the dubious accolade.

Compiled by Germanwatch and the NewClimate Institute, the index ranks countries responsible for 90pc of global greenhouse emissions taking into account emissions, renewable energy penetration on the national grid, energy use and climate policy.

Performance is based on assessments by NGOs and think tanks from the respective countries, which assess if nations are taking adequate action to limit global warming to below 2C by 2100, as set out in the Paris Climate deal.

National pledges to reduce emissions put the planet on a 3C warming path, so the top three places of the CCPI are left unoccupied.

In relation to Ireland, the index says it remains within a group of "very low performing countries".

"The performance in the greenhouse gas emissions category is rated very low and the country is also occupying a spot among the low-ranking performers in the energy use category," it says.

On renewable energy, Ireland is rated medium given that the share of renewables in electricity generation is rising and financial support schemes in these areas "recognise the value" of community participation.

The national experts also commend politicians for banning state investment in fossil fuel companies after passing the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill, banning State investment in fossil fuel companies, and for the Citizens' Assembly which set out measures to tackle climate change.

"However, existing climate mitigation efforts will not enable Ireland to achieve either its EU 2020 or 2030 targets domestically. The long-standing lack of implementation of substantive measures to put the country on a well-below 2C pathway results in a very low rating for Ireland's national policy performance," it added.

A spokesperson for the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment said Minister Richard Bruton had already highlighted that Ireland was "far off course".

"Since being appointed, he has secured Government approval to develop an all-of-government plan to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change.

"This plan will have actions across all sectors of society and will have timelines with clear lines of responsibility," they said.

Speaking at the UN climate talks, deputy director of aid agency Trócaire Finola Finnan said the index highlighted how our reputation on climate internationally was "extremely poor".


"This must be the last year we find ourselves in the lowest performing category," she said.

"An urgent and radical increase in action is called for in response to the stark warning that we are rapidly running out of time to avert climate collapse and secure a future for all of us all, particularly the poorest communities that Trócaire is supporting."

Sweden, Morocco and Lithuania lead the index ranking, but almost half of the G20 countries are in the group of very low performers including Japan (49), Turkey (50), Russian Federation (52), Canada (54), Australia (55), Korea (57) and - at the bottom of the index - the USA (59) and Saudi Arabia (60).

Experts from the USA rated the climate policy of the Trump administration as very low. However, positive signals have emerged due to climate action in several states and cities and because of the Democrats' commitment to drive climate policy with their new majority in the House of Representatives, it added.

Irish Independent

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