Ireland Faces Challenges To Move To A Low Carbon Economy - EPA

Environmental Protection Agency figures released show that Ireland faces considerable challenges in moving to a low carbon economy.

In particular, there is a significant risk that, even in a best-case scenario, Ireland will not meet its EU 2020 targets.

Ireland's EU target is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport, agriculture, residential, waste and non-energy intensive industry by 20 per cent by 2020 (compared to emissions for 2005). EPA projections show that:

• Under the best case scenario, greenhouse gas emissions will remain relatively static up to 2020;

• As a result, emissions in 2020 will be 5-12 per cent below 2005 levels and will not meet the 20 per cent reduction target.

"The figures show that we are currently not on track to becoming a low-carbon economy," said Laura Burke, Director General of the EPA.

"We have not solved the problem of greenhouse gas emissions and this becomes an even more pressing challenge as the economy begins to improve and places further new pressures on emissions targets."

Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions profile is unique in the dominance of the agriculture sector. Emissions from the transport sector are also significant. Emissions in some sectors such as residential, waste, and services are projected to decrease between now and 2020, but emissions from the agriculture and transport sectors – even under the best case scenario - are projected to increase by 15 per cent and 9 per cent, respectively. These figures assume that ambitious targets will be met for renewable fuel penetration, electric vehicle rollout and Food Harvest 2020.

"Recent IPCC reports are clear that climate change is already impacting on us and the natural systems on which we depend”, Laura Burke said. “We need to reduce potential future risks by taking effective action to lower our emissions of greenhouse gases. We must invest in structural and behavioural change to enable our transition to a carbon neutral and climate resilient Ireland. These changes include the rapid decarbonisation of energy and transport and the adoption of sustainable food production, management and consumption systems."


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