Greens and the EU are fretting that Ireland just doesn’t do enough.
The Commission’s 2019 Country Report for Ireland states that we are “falling further behind” our EU compatriots in decarbonising the economy, raising “health, climate and environmental concerns”.
The report points to “severe challenges” in tackling rising emissions in transport, agriculture, energy and the built environment.
In 2016, emissions increased by over 2.5 per cent in agriculture, four per cent in transport and six per cent in the energy sector – primarily due to an increase in the use of gas for electricity generation.
Yeah not so good.
The Commission’s analysis, however, indicates that there is “no signs yet that a reversal in trends is to be expected” with both our 2020 and 2030 targets set to be missed.
The Government has accepted that we will fail to meet our 2020 target, with the Minister for Climate Action, Richard Bruton TD stating that current projections put us 95 per cent off target.
Dum dum dum
Without further action now, compliance with EU commitments will become “increasingly challenging and could become costly”, the report finds, due to a “lack of early action” to meet our targets.
In order to try and meet our 2030 emissions reduction target, Ireland will need to purchase carbon credits “on a large scale during 2021-2030” from other EU members that have exceeded their targets.
“The lack of progress will make the challenge of meeting Ireland’s EU obligations that more difficult, while also increasing the cost of future action,” the Commission report states.
Mr Bruton has previously said that Ireland will need to spend between €6m and €13m on carbon credits to try and bridge the gap to our 2020 target. This will bring total State spending on emissions allowances and renewable credits to €120m since 2007.
This is an interesting twist.
With Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google all now committed to source 100 per cent of their energy from renewable sources, the Commission said that Ireland’s lack of progress may also be “raising concerns for some key multinational companies”.
And of course, just make ‘em pay.
Despite the addition of a one per cent vehicle registration tax surcharge for diesel cars in Budget 2019, diesel is still taxed at a lower rate than petrol “even though it emits more air pollutants”, the report adds.
A recent Economic and Social Research Institute study found that bringing the diesel levy in line with the rate of petrol could reduce Ireland’s emissions and bring in €500 million for the exchequer.
The proposed increase in the carbon tax in Budget 2019 would have been an “important and much-needed signal to economic agents”, the Commission said.
Circular! That ought to do it.
The Commission also said that Ireland would benefit from a national strategy for the transition to a more circular economy, with progress toward mandatory recycling targets slowing in recent years.