A “systemic change” to society and the economy will be required for Ireland to meet its climate change goals

Brian Mahon writes on The Times website about the challenge facing Ireland as it implements its 2019 climate action plan. Are you having similar challenges in your country?


Ireland’s economy ‘must shift to meet climate goals’

Ireland will be able to meet its climate change goals but a “systemic change” to society and the economy will be required, a report has said.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today published its greenhouse gas emissions projections report.

It said that short-term emission reductions that have occurred due to Covid-19 do not negate the need for long-term, targeted action across all sectors.

To meet the EU target to reduce emissions by 30 per cent by 2030, Ireland will have to fully implement the 2019 climate action plan. This would result in a 3 per cent average annual emissions reduction from 2021 through to 2030.

Laura Burke, director general of the EPA said: “These latest projections demonstrate that if we implement the actions that are planned, and if all sectors get behind these, then we can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

“This is only the first step, however, and for Ireland to become the low-carbon and climate-resilient society and economy that we aspire to systemic change is required.”

However, the report also noted that the latest projections from the EPA were “underpinned by projected strong economic growth”.

The projections do not include the impact of Covid-19, which will only be included in the next round of projections.

Speaking about the effect Covid-19 has had on the reduction of emissions, Ms Burke added: “Long term improvements can only be achieved with targeted climate and environmental actions that change consumption and production systems in a sustainable and lasting manner.”

In the short term, Ireland is set to miss its emissions reductions targets for 2020 which were agreed with the EU. This has left the country open to heavy fines.

The new report set out an ambitious suite of measures that Ireland must implement to be able to reach its 2030 targets. Carbon tax needs to be at €80 per tonne by 2030, with 70 per cent of electricity generated by renewable energy. Emissions from agriculture must reduce by 12 per cent over the same period, compared to 2018 figures.

In addition, Ireland must also improve its management of forestry, grasslands and wetlands to meet its new targets, the report says.

For transport to meet its obligations it will mean that the government’s ambitious target of having one million electric vehicles on the roads by 2030 will have to be met. It will also necessitate a “considerable increase” in the use of biofuels.

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