After shocking emission findings, report says Ireland is ‘completely off course’

26 Jul 2018

The Poolbeg incinerator in Dublin. Image: noel bennett/Shutterstock

The Climate Change Advisory Council has released a damning report of Ireland’s efforts to tackle the effects of climate change.

While the Irish Government received some kudos for becoming the first to legally pull all funding from fossil fuel companies, it could be too little too late, judging by a less-than-favourable climate report.

Published by the independent Climate Change Advisory Council, the 118-page report set out to analyse Irish policies towards tackling climate change, with a particular focus on its aims of reaching international and EU-set carbon emission reduction targets.

With the results in, there is no escaping the fact that while it is claimed we have been working to drive down emissions nationwide, we have actually seen emissions rise over the past few years, according to the report.

In the council’s own words, Ireland is “completely off course in terms of achieving its 2020 and 2030 emissions reduction targets”.

The report added that unless drastic action is taken, Ireland “will drift further from a pathway that is consistent with transition to a low-carbon economy and society”.

Complete opposite of the plan

Rather than reducing our carbon emissions by 1m tonnes per year, the council found that Ireland has actually increased its emissions by 2m tonnes per year.

These findings, when the 2035 emission projections are included, are “disturbing”, according to the authors of the report.

Across all industries, the largest rise in emissions was found in energy, which saw an increase of 700,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent released, followed by transport and agriculture, both at 500,000 tonnes.

“The observed and projected increase in agricultural emissions, and ongoing carbon losses from land use (including from peat extraction), undermine our ability to achieve the national transition objective and our EU targets for 2020 and 2030,” the report said.

“This is of great concern to the council.”

Possible remedies

Perhaps the most notable suggestion that the council has called on the Government to enact is a €10 increase in the carbon tax for Budget 2019 to €30 per tonne.

The council added that by 2030, this should increase by almost a factor of three to €80 per tonne.

Despite welcoming the Government’s decision to cease coal burning at the Moneypoint energy plant by 2025, the council still criticised the decision to support biomass co-fired with peat energy as it would significantly increase our emissions.

Responding to the report, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten, TD, acknowledged the council’s frustration with the lack of progress.

He did add that the Government plans to spend €22bn to transition Ireland to a low-carbon economy, with the Cabinet approving the doubling in volume of renewable energy going into the grid.

This report comes just a month after Ireland was called a “laggard” by an author of a separate report published by Climate Action Network Europe, stating that the country was the second-worst in Europe for meeting emission reduction targets.

The Poolbeg incinerator in Dublin. Image: noel bennett/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic