Ireland set to significantly miss climate goals, EPA warns

2 Jun 2023

Image: © yuplex/

The EPA warned that even if Ireland’s current policies are fully implemented, the country looks set to only reduce emissions by up to 29pc by 2030.

Ireland is on track to miss its emissions reduction targets by a significant margin with its current measures, according to a new report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The agency’s latest greenhouse gas emissions projections state that Ireland’s current policies and measures – if fully implemented – could deliver an emissions reduction of up to 29pc by 2030.

However, this falls short of the country’s target to achieve a 51pc emissions reduction by the end of the decade. The report also claims that all sectors except residential buildings are projected to underperform in relation to this target.

EPA director general Laura Burke said Ireland’s climate targets won’t be met unless “all sectors of the economy” deliver emissions reductions in the short term and “sustain this delivery into the future”. “A continued lack of delivery of large-scale practical actions to decarbonise activities in all sectors will see us exceed our carbon budgets,” Burke warned.

“Ireland needs to grasp the nettle of climate action so it can realise the significant opportunities and social and economic co-benefits for people, communities and business that can be delivered through innovation and decarbonisation.”

Burke noted that the EPA’s report does not include all the actions listed in Ireland’s Climate Action Plan 2023, such as the diversification of agriculture or the decarbonisation of construction materials. She said that “more detail is needed” on how and when these actions will be implemented.

The big misses

In terms of sectors, the EPA said agriculture, electricity, transport and industry are projected to be the furthest from their climate targets by 2030.

Agriculture is the biggest contributor to Ireland’s emissions, according to previous reports. EPA figures last year suggested the sector was responsible for 37.5pc of Ireland’s total emissions in 2021. But the new report claims this sector’s emissions look set to decrease only by between 4pc and 20pc by the end of the decade, compared to 2021 emissions.

Manufacturing combustion emissions are projected to reduce by between 6pc and 22pc by 2030, but “industrial process emissions” look set to increase by 5pc over the same period due to increased cement production.

The transport sector is projected to reduce its emissions by 35pc by 2030 compared to 2021 figures, if measures around electric vehicle numbers and more sustainable transport are implemented.

The EPA highlighted that Ireland has a continued dependency on coal due to recent geopolitical events and a lack of sufficient gas-fired generation. The agency warned that this has “undone” some of the good work in recent years. However, if Ireland delivers on its renewable energy targets – such as wind and solar – energy industry emissions could be reduced by 60pc by 2030.

Global climate crisis concerns

Recent reports have highlighted the threat of the climate crisis and the impact it is having on both humanity and the planet as a whole.

Last month, the World Meteorological Organization warned that there is a 98pc chance that at least one of the next five years “and the five-year period as a whole” will be the warmest on record.

A recent study by researchers at Queens University Belfast suggests that the impact on biodiversity is worse than we thought, with nearly half of all species declining towards extinction.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic