The Government said a ‘radical transformation’ is needed to follow the EU’s proposed target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55pc by 2030.
In her first state of the union address as president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen announced a proposal to increase the 2030 target for emission reduction to at least 55pc from the previous target of 40pc. In her speech yesterday (16 September), she said the target is “ambitious, achievable and beneficial for Europe”.
“We can do it. We have already shown we can do it,” she said. “While emissions dropped 25pc since 1990, our economy grew by more than 60pc. The difference is we now have more technology, more expertise and more investment. And we are already embarking towards a circular economy with carbon neutral production.”
In Ireland, Minister for Communications Climate Action and Environment Eamon Ryan, TD, has now welcomed the new target.
“The Government welcomes the increasing impetus and focus at EU level on climate action. This includes the vision set out in the [European] Green Deal, published in December 2019, which aims to deliver net-zero greenhouse gas emissions at EU level by 2050,” Ryan said in a statement.
“By working in partnership with the EU, we can achieve the radical transformation required across our economy and society to meet the challenge of climate change.”
Enshrined in law
The Programme for Government released earlier this year set a national commitment of an average 7pc per annum reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions from 2021 to 2030, which would be a 51pc reduction over the coming decade.
Ryan said that the Climate Action (Amendment) Bill is being drafted as a priority, with its terms set to be published soon. He added that it will “significantly strengthen the statutory framework for governance of the climate challenge in Ireland”.
Last week, the Government approved the results of the first Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) auction. RESS is a competitive, auction-based scheme that invites renewable electricity projects to bid for capacity and receive a guaranteed price for the electricity they generate for up to 16.5 years.
A total of 82 projects were approved, including 160 new onshore wind turbines and 1,750 hectares of solar panels, with capacities of 479MW and 796MW, respectively. The winning bidders have a projected output of 2,237GWh of renewable electricity, equating to a potential saving of 671 kilotons of CO2 per year.