Government’s plans will still see Ireland miss out on 2030 emissions targets

7 Jun 2019

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Even with all Government measures enacted, Ireland will overshoot its 2030 carbon emission reduction targets, an EPA report has found.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has crunched the numbers when it comes to carbon emissions for the years ahead, with a dark, pessimistic cloud now hanging over the country.

According to the report, even if the Government was to enact all of its carbon reduction measures as part of the National Development Plan and Climate Action Plan, we will still far overshoot the emissions reduction target set for 2030 by the EU.

Under the agreement, Ireland has promised to reduce its carbon emissions by 30pc by 2030 when compared with levels in 2005, not including large-scale polluters such as power plants and the aviation industry. If this is not achieved, the country would be expected to face significant financial levies placed by the EU.

The EPA report included two different projections for emissions based on whether existing decarbonisation legislation was in place, or if all of the Government’s measures are enforced. With existing measures, total emissions are expected to be increased from current levels by up to 6pc. Meanwhile, if all measures are enacted, this will see a decrease of up to 10pc by 2030.

Regardless, between 2021 and 2030, the EPA projected that Ireland will exceed its agreed carbon budget by between 52 and 67 megatons of CO2 equivalent. Ireland has already exceeded its annual limits in 2016 and 2017. Between 2013 and 2020, the country will exceed it by approximately 10Mt, or 9Mt with additional measures.

Biggest polluters

Three of the biggest areas where decarbonisation is seriously lacking, the report said, are energy, transport and agriculture, accounting for a total of 72pc of all Irish emissions. These three sources have shown a significant increase in the three years up to the end of 2017.

Agriculture will contribute 34pc of total emissions in 2020, but this will increase by 4pc by 2030. This is the largest increase seen in the three sectors and will be a result of an increase in the country’s dairy herd, the EPA said.

In transport, emissions are expected to grow steadily over the coming years, largely attributable to diesel vehicles on the road. Even if the Government’s target of 500,000 electric vehicles becomes a reality by 2030, emissions will still increase.

All of these findings show that Ireland’s best-case scenario is to achieve just one-third of the target set by the EU and that even more drastic actions would have to be taken to achieve a 30pc reduction.

This opinion was shared by EPA director general Laura Burke, who said: “To meet its EU targets for 2030 and achieve national policy ambitions, Ireland will need full implementation of those measures, plus additional measures in future plans.”

A report published in 2017 by the the Irish Academy of Engineering calculated that the State would need to spend at least €35bn in order to meet the 30pc reduction target.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic