July 22nd, 2016
Irish Environmental organisations have expressed their dismay at the carbon reduction targets for 2030, which were published by the European Commission on Wednesday, saying that they are not sufficient to meet the objectives of last year’s United Nations agreement in Paris.
The new targets require Ireland to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030, but the way in which carbon is accounted for in sectors relating to land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) and also the portion of emissions that can be offset against emissions in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) mean that Ireland will have less to do to meet these targets. The new targets also decrease the chances of keeping average global temperature increases below 1.5° as aimed for in the Paris Agreement.
The “flexibilities” in the new targets, seen as loopholes by An Taisce’s Professor Barry McMullin, allow Ireland to offset 4% of our carbon from the carbon market towards the Agriculture, Building and Transport sectors, seeing as emissions from the carbon market, which relate to electricity generation and heavy industry are not subject to these new targets. They also allow forestry to count against emissions up to a value of 280m tonnes. Professor McMullin commented: “Planting the right kinds of trees in the right places is good environmental policy, but carbon sequestration in forestry, soils and grassland cannot be equated with effective climate action unless radical cuts in energy and agriculture emissions are also being implemented, which they are not.”
The overall European Union target is to reduce the bloc’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40% (on 2005 levels) by 2030, but the diversity in industrial activity and wealth of EU members means that individual members have been allocated different targets and allowances for ETS and LULUCF offsets.