Ireland way off its EU greenhouse gas emissions targets

13 Apr 2017

Ireland’s Atlantic coast. Image: grafxart/Shutterstock

Ireland shows little sign of achieving its 2020 emissions targets, according to a damning new report from the Environmental Protection Agency.

It’s an overused phrase, perhaps, but the idea that Government doesn’t create jobs, rather it creates an environment in which jobs can be created, can be accepted as a decent grasp at the truth.

However, it’s the other environment that is proving to be of more concern today (13 April).

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has produced a worrying report, predicting that Ireland will miss its EU greenhouse gas emissions targets. By a long way, too.

Emissions targets

Sectors including agriculture, transport, residential, commercial, non-energy intensive industry and waste will fail to make the grade, according to the report.

The EPA estimates that the reduction of emissions between 2005 and 2020, which was planned to be 20pc, could be as low as 4pc.

A more concerning element of the report is the forecasted increase over the following decade that will see a 3.5pc rise in emissions by 2030.

While waste, in particular, will see emissions plummet by as much as 43.5pc in the 2005-2030 period, stark rises in industrial and manufacturing emissions all contribute to an unsettling increase.

“The EPA’s latest greenhouse gas projections are a disappointing indicator that the current range of policy measures to reduce emissions and to meet compliance obligations are failing in an improving economy,” said Laura Burke, director general of the EPA.

Image: EPA

Image: EPA

What goes down …

Another worrying aspect is the likelihood that the recession, which dominated the years between 2005 and now, actually helped the country to reduce its emissions as construction stalled, car sales froze and industry dried up.

Today’s improving economy, matched to a surge in emissions, hints that structurally, not enough was done in the past.

Burke notes a further goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80pc between 1990-2050. For that to happen, she claims, new planning is required.

Any new measures “need to be innovative and effective to get Ireland’s emissions back on a sustainable trajectory”, she said.

“This will take planning, investment and time, but can be achieved in the overall framework of national, EU and global commitments.”

There are projects on the go, at the moment. For example, Ireland’s wind energy generation is expected to increase significantly following the opening of the largest wind farm in Ireland at Meenadreen in Co Donegal.

With 38 Nordex turbines, Energia said that this wind farm will be able to power up to 50,000 homes, thereby reducing Ireland’s CO2 emissions by 100,000 tonnes per year.

However, this will do little to make a dent in Ireland’s estimated CO2 emissions in 2015, which totalled close to 60m tonnes for the year.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic