Climate emergency declaration ‘crucial’ step forward

Published by Kayle Crosson on

May 17th, 2019

The declaration of a climate emergency in several European countries is a “crucial” step forward, the Director-General for Climate Action at the European Commission said at a briefing in Dublin today.

Mauro Petriccione made the comment during an official visit to Dublin to discuss the European Commission’s plan to achieve a climate neutral economy for the European Union by 2050.

Last week, the Dail declared a climate and biodiversity emergency, one of the key demands of both the student strikers and Extinction Rebellion. Both groups have held protests across Ireland over the past number of months.

“The fact that you have people on the street every week is fundamental,” Director-General Mauro Petriccione said at a media briefing this afternoon.

“Some of them might not be voters now, but they will be soon. And I hope it’s going to continue until we’ve put all right courses of action on track,” he continued.

Mr Petriccione also addressed the issues of carbon taxation during his media briefing today, finding that it is, “is an instrument. It can work, but it doesn’t always.

“A local carbon tax depends on circumstances, it isn’t a one size fits all. But one thing is for certain: carbon pricing is essential and I think it’s beginning to work,” he said.

At present, the current carbon tax in Ireland is set at €20 per tonne of carbon and brings in €440 million annually that goes directly to the Government’s main treasury account. It is set to rise to €80 by 2030.

Just this week, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland revealed that Ireland’s recent reduction in energy emissions will not suffice in meeting our 2020 EU target.

The authority’s National Projections Report forecasts that 13 per cent of Ireland’s energy will come from renewable sources by 2020, three per cent short of our European target of 16 percent.

Additionally, for the second consecutive year, Ireland has been singled out as the worst performing country in Europe for addressing climate change.

Speaking to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Action yesterday, Mr Petriccione stressed that Ireland’s current situation is not surprising, nor “is this a unique situation in Europe”.

“I think this transformation is massive.  [Climate Change is] going to tax the way we all think in policy-making in Europe and there are shortcomings across the European Union,” he said.

Mr Petriccione also addressed agricultural – responsible for one-third of Ireland’s total emissions – at the Committee hearing.

“We have, as you know particularly well in Ireland, a real issue concerning emissions in the agricultural sector,” Mr Petriccione said.

“We know decarbonizing from the agricultural sector, eliminating greenhouse gas emissions, at least in the foreseeable future, is likely to prove impossible. We have to manage that,” he continued.

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Kayle Crosson

Kayle is a multimedia journalist focused on climate and environmental issues and contributes to The Irish Times and The Green News.