Figures released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicate that while Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions will comply with its Kyoto Protocol obligations (2008–2012), Ireland is at significant risk of not meeting our EU 2020 targets even under the best-case scenario.
EPA projections for the period 2012 to 2020 show:
*Ireland can comply with its Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gas reduction obligations for the first commitment period (2008–2012).
*Ireland is required to reduce its emissions by 20% by 2020, however, these projections indicate that we will breach our annual obligations under the EU 2020 target from 2016 onwards in the best-case scenario.
* Strong projected growth in emissions from transport and agriculture are the key contributors to this trend.
For action to be taken to tackle climate change, individual countries need to estimate the amount of greenhouse gases they emit and how much they are likely to emit in the future. The figures published by the EPA show the projected trends for greenhouse gases up to 2020 and give a picture of Ireland’s ability to meet EU and international targets with respect to greenhouse gas emissions. Projections are updated annually to take account of new information and show two scenarios – one based on existing policies and measures and the other on existing policies plus all planned policies and measures that are currently known.
Dara Lynott, Deputy Director General of EPA, comments: “Reductions inIreland’s greenhouse gases to-date are, primarily, a direct result of the current economic recession and economic outlook for the future. Ireland cannot rely on recession to meet our long term carbon reduction requirements and needs to develop as a low carbon and resource efficient economy. All sectors of the economy must contribute to emission reductions with a strong focus on those sectors – transport and agriculture – that dominate our emissions profile. Significant reductions are needed in the transport and agriculture sectors which are currently showing an increasing trend in emissions into the future.”
Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions profile is unique in the dominance of the agriculture sector. Emissions from the transport sector are also significant. By 2020 transport and agriculture are projected to account for nearly 80% ofIreland’s emissions not accounted for under the Emissions Trading Scheme. Under the most ambitious reduction scenario, transport and agriculture emissions are projected to both increase by 12% by 2020. This scenario assumes that ambitious targets are met for renewable fuel penetration, electric vehicle rollout and targets under the Food Harvest 2020.
Dr Eimear Cotter, Senior Manager at EPA, says: “While cost-effective greenhouse gas mitigation options may be limited in agriculture and transport, reductions in both of these sectors will need to be achieved in the context of increasing emissions. Economic incentives can play a role in reducing emissions by stimulating a change in behavioural patterns. Areas that can make a difference include using resources more efficiently, travel behaviour, farming practice, energy efficiency and societal engagement.”
The EPA Projections of greenhouse gas emissions to 2020 are available on the EPA website at: www.epa.ie/downloads/pubs/air/airemissions/.