Ireland gets 10pc leeway in meeting 2030 EU emissions targets

21 Jul 2016

Following the latest EU agreement, Ireland has managed to get itself some leeway on emissions reductions between 2021 and 2030. The previous target has now been reduced by 10pc, with a flexibility of 5.6pc.

Ireland’s emissions targets remain a contested issue within the EU as, despite agreeing to cut our greenhouse emissions by 20pc by 2020, Ireland remains one of a handful of EU states who are not on target to reach this goal.

This was further compounded last April, when the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) revealed that we are only around half-way towards reaching our renewable energy production target, warning that ‘accelerated actions’ were now needed to catch up.

Ireland receives maximum flexibility

However, the European Commission (EC) last night announced it had agreed deals with member states to recalculate the targets set for between 2021 and 2030.

In 2014, it was agreed that all member states would agree to cut greenhouse emissions by 40pc by 2030, but the revised figures require Ireland to achieve only a 30pc reduction.

Not only that, but, due to Ireland’s heavily agriculture-based economy, the country has been given the maximum flexibility possible in missing its target, with a maximum allowance of a 5.6pc in leniency.

This is thanks to a new clause inserted in the policy that promises to take afforestation into account ahead of the deadline, allowing states to offset the 30pc target.

Under the new proposals, the EU will monitor the changes that have occurred in the areas of transport, buildings, agriculture, waste, land-use and forestry sectors, but major emissions contributors like industry will not be taken into account.

Mixed reactions

Reaction in Ireland and Europe has been mixed, with the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) releasing a statement cautiously welcoming the leniency shown by the EU, saying it is “more balanced”.

However, the IFA’s president, Joe Healy, added that even these more lenient targets “will be extremely challenging, given the low mitigation potential of sectors such as agriculture”.

Delivering harsh criticisms of the EU’s decision was the Green Party group based in the European Parliament, which accused the EC of having a short-term memory.

“With the ink hardly dry on the UN climate agreement, the Commission is acting as if the COP21 Paris climate summit never happened,” a statement from the group said.

“The proposed national effort sharing targets for emissions reductions to 2030 are clearly below the level they need to be at if the EU is to play its part in meeting the goal of limiting the increase in global temperatures to well below 2 degrees, and to try and limit the increase to below 1.5 degrees.”

Tractor image via VRStudio/Shutterstock

Updated 21/07/2016

This article has been amended to reflect that Ireland’s emissions target was a reduction by 20pc, not 16pc as previously stated.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic