EPA warns ‘urgent’ action needed as Ireland may not meet climate targets

1 Jun 2022

Image: © Алексей Филатов/Stock.adobe.com

Minister Eamon Ryan said we ‘need to double down’ on climate action if Ireland is to reduce emissions by 51pc by 2030.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has warned that “urgent” measures are needed for Ireland to meet its climate targets.

In its greenhouse gas emissions projections for the period 2021 to 2040, published today (1 June), the EPA said that if all planned climate policies and measures are fully implemented, it could deliver an emissions reduction of up to 28pc by 2030.

If Ireland wants to meet its target of reducing emissions by 51pc by the end of the decade, the EPA said that urgent implementation of climate policies, plus further new measures, are needed.

The EPA projections indicate that we have returned to pre-pandemic levels of activity, particularly in terms of transport, with associated levels of emissions. Total greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland are estimated to have increased by 6pc in 2021.

Laura Burke, director general of the EPA, said these projections show the scale of policy development and implementation needed to meet the targets sets out in the Climate Action Plan 2021 and the carbon budgets recently approved by the Government.

“There is a significant gap between the ambition in the Climate Act and the realisation of the necessary actions to deliver on that ambition,” she added.

“The data shows that a step up in both the implementation of actions already set out in plans and policies and the identification of new measures is needed.”

‘Achieving our climate targets will provide numerous benefits but will require changes across all sectors of our society and economy’

The Climate Action Plan 2021 outlines the objective for Ireland to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by 51pc by 2030 and to reach net-zero emissions no later than 2050.

The plan sets out different emissions reduction targets for each sector of the economy. It will be updated annually with policies to keep Ireland within carbon budgets, and the next Climate Action Plan is due to be published later this year.

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan, TD, said the EPA figures indicate that “we need to double down” on implementing climate action measures and helping sectors meet their emissions reduction targets.

The EPA noted that all sectors have work to do, but the challenge is “particularly evident” in the agriculture industry.

Ryan said he has plans to bring “challenging” sectoral emissions ceilings before the Government soon and noted that Ireland will also have to meet “ambitious” legally binding European targets.

“This may seem daunting, but too often people overestimate what we can do in a year but underestimate what we can do in a decade,” he added.

“Achieving our climate targets will provide numerous benefits to the country in terms of health, competitiveness, employment opportunities, biodiversity and climate impact, but will require changes across all sectors of our society and economy.”

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Sarah Harford was sub-editor of Silicon Republic