It will cost State more than €35bn to meet 2030 emissions targets

23 Feb 2017

A flock of sheep on the outskirts of Dingle, Co Kerry. Image: Tiramisu Studio/Shutterstock

A new report issued by the IAE has thrown serious doubt on the possibility of Ireland meeting its already scaled-down 2030 emissions targets.

Unlike some larger EU member states, Ireland has been given a special dispensation for the emissions targets that every nation in the union is hoping to achieve by 2030.

In 2014, it was agreed that all member states would aim to cut greenhouse emissions by 40pc by 2030, with the revised figures meaning Ireland just had to achieve a 30pc reduction.

‘Just about feasible’

However, due to Ireland’s reliance on agriculture as a major source of income, the State was given extra leeway of nearly 10pc, which means it now has an allowable target of 20.4pc reduction.

If it does not meet this target, the Irish nation could face considerable fines when 2030 rolls around.

A new report issued to the Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Environment Denis Naughten, TD, by The Irish Academy of Engineering (IAE) has raised serious concerns over Ireland’s chances of achieving this.

According to the report, the ability to bring our emissions to this level is “just about feasible”, but would require an enormous investment of as much as €35bn by 2030.

However, with no data gathered on the exact cost of reducing emissions in particular sectors to ensure this, the real figure is likely to be “significantly more” than €35bn, the IAE warned.

Analysis of Ireland’s carbon emissions indicated that in 2015, 60m tonnes of emissions were produced in the country.

IAE report 1

Image: IAE

Of that number, one-third came from the agriculture sector, followed by transport and energy, which both accounted for 19pc each.

The promising signs of a huge reduction in 2008 have since been attributed to the economic crash that began that year, and emissions have remained flat since 2011.

One of the greatest areas of worry for the IAE is in transport, where emissions increased in each of the last four years, and are expected to do so again in the years to come.

IAE report 2

Image: IAE

A need to focus on one sector

Even if there was an overhaul of Ireland’s infrastructure, and incentives for cleaner transport such as electric vehicles, estimates still see emissions in this area increasing from 11.8m tonnes in 2015, to 13.4m tonnes in 2030.

From a cost-saving perspective, the IAE is suggesting that the Government put most of its focus on emissions within sectors that fall under the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), such as power generation, rather than non-ETS areas such as agriculture.

The organisation believes that agriculture is where carbon emission reduction is more difficult and generally more expensive to implement.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic