Ireland Can Meet Kyoto Greenhouse Gas Obligations

Ireland can comply with its Kyoto commitments (2008-2012) with regard to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions but is predicted to breach its annual obligations under the EU 2020 target, from 2016 onwards. This is according to the EPA’s recently published greenhouse gas emissions projections for the period 2010 to 2020.

The figures show the projected trends for greenhouse gases and give a picture of Ireland’s ability to meet EU and international targets with respect to greenhouse gas emissions. The projections have been submitted to the EU as required.  The projections update the previous set of national emission projections which were published in April 2010 by the EPA.

Two scenarios are developed – one based on policies and measures already in existence or being implemented, and the other on existing measures plus all planned policies and measures which are currently known.

”Our latest projections for greenhouse gas emissions show that Ireland will be able to meet its Kyoto Protocol commitment in 2010. However, the projected reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are a direct result of the current economic recession and economic outlook in the short term. In order to meet future targets, Ireland cannot rely on a recession and needs to transition to a low carbon economy,” comments Dr Mary Kelly, director general of EPA. “It is clear from our projections that the implementation of all existing and planned measures will not be sufficient to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the required levels by 2020. Now is the time to make further planned reductions to ensure Ireland does not breach its target in 2016 as projected.”

EU 2020 Targets

Under EU 2020 Targets for non-ETS sector emissions, Ireland is required to deliver a 20% reduction in non-ETS greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 (relative to 2005 levels) and keep emissions below annual limits over the period 2013-2020. These non-ETS emissions come from agriculture, transport, residential and waste activities, and exclude main industrial activities which are covered under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.

Projections indicate that Ireland will breach its annual limit by 2016, in the best case scenario, and exceed its EU 2020 target by between 4.1 and 8.8 million tonnes of CO2e in 2020.

Sector Projections

Transport and agriculture are projected to account for 75% of total non-ETS emissions by 2020. This illustrates the important role that both transport and agriculture will have to play in developing mitigation options for reducing emissions in Ireland and for meeting our 2020 EU targets.

Growth in transport emissions is projected to slow significantly in comparison with historical growth rates. This is attributed to a slowdown in economic growth, which particularly impacts freight transport, and a saturation in car ownership levels as emigration increases.

Whilst agriculture is key to Ireland’s economic growth, employing 150,000 people and producing annual exports of more than Eur7 billion, emissions from the sector are projected to increase by 4% between 2009 and 2020, under the assumption that the Food Harvest 2020 targets will be achieved in full and EU milk quota will be removed.

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