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Climate change blueprint published in Ireland

Words: Roger Milne
Climate change / Shutterstock_86013754

Five years behind deadline, the Irish Government has finally published a draft National Mitigation Plan designed to deal with climate change.

The blueprint, now out for consultation, met a chorus of condemnation from environmentalists because of the absence of a clear-cut strategy.

The 91-page document examines the four main areas of economic activity where the government assumes responsibility in reducing emissions. They are: electricity generation, the built environment, transport, and land-use (including agriculture and forestry).

Climate change and environment minister Denis Naughten acknowledged the problems. “It is clear that there are no easy options to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions on the scale required in the coming decades.”

The plan accepts Ireland will not meet its 2020 European Union target of a 20 per cent reduction in emissions. The likely out-turn is six per cent. Moreover, the plan describes many of the changes that should take place if Ireland is to meet the EU’s 2030 targets of a 30 per cent reduction in emissions as "extremely challenging”, compared to 2005.

It accepts that in two key areas, transport and agriculture, emissions will increase between now and 2020.

The document and accompanying environmental impact assessment acknowledges that the government must consider banning peat and coal for home heating, and hiking the carbon tax on transport fuels, to move Ireland to a low-carbon economy.

Plans to reduce emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050 to prevent dangerous climate change will also require investment in public transport, incentivising people to retrofit their properties to make them more efficient, and ban the use of peat for power generation.

Naughten said: “We are now moving into a new phase where we need to achieve larger amounts of more durable energy savings from larger scale projects, in particular deep renovation of buildings and more sustainable new build."

He added: “It is clear that there are no easy options to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions on the scale required in the coming decades. The options presented in the draft will be complex and often expensive to implement.

"However, in many cases these options will have a range of environmental, economic and other benefits, not just in relation to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but also as a potential source of employment or in improving our air quality, for example.”

The consultation can be found here.

Image credit | Shuttershock