State ac­cused of row­ing back on emis­sions tar­get

Ire­land’s ap­proach to cli­mate change deal ‘shame­ful’, say cam­paign­ers

The Irish Times - - Home News - KEVIN O’SUL­LI­VAN, En­vi­ron­ment & Sci­ence Ed­i­tor

The Gov­ern­ment has been ac­cused of avail­ing of a se­ries of “con­ces­sions and loop­holes” that will al­low Ire­land to re­duce its com­mit­ments to curb­ing car­bon emis­sions up to 2030.

Europe’s com­mit­ment to the Paris ac­cord on cli­mate change reaches a crit­i­cal point to­day with ne­go­ti­a­tions on the EU’s “cor­ner­stone mea­sures” due to be agreed for im­ple­men­ta­tion.

This is known as the “Ef­fort Shar­ing Reg­u­la­tion” (ESR), which sets tar­gets for mem­ber states to re­duce emis­sions from trans­port, agri­cul­ture and small in­dus­try”. The EU En­vi­ron­ment Coun­cil is host­ing the meet­ing in Lux­em­bourg.

En­vi­ron­ment min­is­ters will also con­sider reg­u­la­tions “on land use, land-use change and forestry” with a view to agree­ing a gen­eral ap­proach for leg­isla­tive pro­pos­als to cut green­house gases (GHG) emis­sions in sec­tors not cov­ered by the EU Emis­sions Trad­ing Sys­tem which reg­u­lates GHG from avi­a­tion and power gen­er­a­tion.

Ire­land’s ap­proach was de­scribed as “shame­ful” and “a be­trayal of the Paris Agree­ment” by Ir­ish cam­paign­ers Stop Cli­mate Chaos (SCC).

Let­ter to Min­is­ter

In a de­tailed let­ter to the Min­is­ter for Cli­mate Ac­tion and En­vi­ron­ment De­nis Naugh­ten, SCC spokesman Sor­ley McCaughey cited ma­jor weak­nesses in the pro­posed reg­u­la­tions. “Ire­land’s sup­port for many of the weak­est as­pects of both pro­pos­als is a cause for con­sid­er­able alarm from both a global and na­tional per­spec­tive,” he said.

A Depart­ment spokesman con­firmed Mr Naugh­ten will be at­tend­ing the coun­cil meet­ing. “It would not be ap­pro­pri­ate to com­ment on the con­tents of this let­ter in ad­vance of the meet­ing,” he added.

Cli­mate Ac­tion Net­work Europe claimed Ire­land was about to se­cure “the most stag­ger­ing con­ces­sions” in spite of be­ing the only EU coun­try “where pol­lut­ing emis­sions are pre­dicted to con­tinue to rise”. In ad­di­tion, Ire­land is likely not to meet its 2020 tar­gets on re­duc­ing CO2. The 2030 tar­get is a 30 per cent re­duc­tion in emis­sions.

“The Gov­ern­ment’s fo­cus on loop­holes to avoid ac­tual emis­sions cuts will only in­crease Ire­land’s over­all 2050 mit­i­ga­tion chal­lenge, as well

as drive up the fi­nan­cial, po­lit­i­cal and so­cial costs of se­vere cli­mate im­pacts and per­sis­tent non-com­pli­ance,” said Prof John Sweeney of Maynooth Univer­sity.

“The text as it cur­rently stands will also be a missed op­por­tu­nity to reap the many co-ben­e­fits of re­duced emis­sions, such as im­proved soil, lower health costs and en­hanced air qual­ity,” he added.

The Ger­man gov­ern­ment has pro­posed us­ing 2020 tar­gets “as a start­ing point” for mem­ber states such as Ire­land, Aus­tria, Bel­gium, Den­mark and Lux­em­bourg which are ex­pected to fail to meet their goals.

But Friends of the Earth di­rec­tor Oisín Cogh­lan said coun­tries should not be re­warded for miss­ing tar­gets, es­pe­cially as “the Gov­ern­ment is seek­ing to de­vi­ate sig­nif­i­cantly from the path­way to achieve its own ob­jec­tive for 2050”.

“Ire­land’s strong sup­port for a weak EU cli­mate law sits in stark con­trast to the Taoiseach’s com­mit­ment to tackle cli­mate change,” said Jen­nifer Hig­gins of Chris­tian Aid Ire­land. “The Gov­ern­ment’s strong lobby for loop­holes and con­ces­sions . . . re­veals the hypocrisy of talk at home of be­com­ing ‘a leader in tack­ling cli­mate change’. ”

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