Irish climate spending needs to be almost €500m a year to pay ‘fair share’

2 Dec 2019

Image: © Sue/

With Ireland once again set to be named a climate laggard, a new report has called for a six-fold increase in climate spending.

With this week being the start of the latest UN climate conference (COP25), a joint report from Trócaire and Christian Aid Ireland has been launched, calling for a surge in funding towards tackling the climate crisis.

They claimed that in order for Ireland to meet its “fair share”, there will need to be a six-fold increase in climate spending, reaching €475m of the $100bn total agreed by nations at the Paris Agreement in 2015. In 2018, Ireland spent €80m on climate funding. Any increase in climate funding, the report added, should come from newly sourced financing as opposed to being diverted funds from existing aid budgets.

While stating that Ireland’s transparency on the subject of climate spending is welcomed, the authors of the report said, the Government’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 2pc per year until 2030 falls “dramatically short of the level and pace needed” to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“Ireland is yet to experience the extent of the devastating impacts of climate change that are a persistent reality for the poorest people in the world, who are suffering increasingly frequent and intense droughts, devastating cyclones and other extreme weather conditions,” said Cliona Sharkey, policy adviser at Trócaire.

“The only way we will be able to stop global temperatures rising beyond the agreed limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius is for all nations to work together.”

A ‘largely wasted’ effort so far

Jenny Higgins, policy and advocacy adviser to Christian Aid Ireland, added that if Ireland was to take any new funding from existing aid budgets, “we will be in the situation of robbing Peter to pay Paul and choosing between life-saving projects and efforts to tackle climate change”.

Last year, Ireland was ranked the worst in Europe for climate action, resulting in the Government launching its Climate Action Plan earlier this year with promises of major policy changes including the mass electrification of Irish vehicles by 2030. A Christian Aid Ireland report released in August showed that the average Irish person generates as much CO2 as 303 Burundians.

Ahead of COP25, climatologist Prof John Sweeney of Maynooth University told the Irish Times that Ireland’s efforts since the Paris Agreement have “largely been wasted” and that trends for the future do not look good for the nation.

“Recent work by Irish scientists based on equity and the remaining carbon budget suggest that Ireland will have used its fair share of the remaining global carbon budget within five years and will enter into ‘carbon debt’ to the rest of the world within the next five to 10 years,” he said.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic