EPA: Ireland will fail to meet 2020 climate targets

22 June 2021

Ireland will fail to meet its 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, according to The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The EPA noted that “significant measures” will need to be identified and implemented across all sectors to achieve a 51 per cent emissions reduction by 2030 in Ireland.

In their Greenhouse Gas projections for the period 2020-2040, the EPA said that Ireland exceeded its 2013-2020 EU Effort Sharing Decision target by 12.2 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.

However, despite missing these targets, the EPA noted that current EU 2021-2030 commitments can still be met with full implementation of the measures in the climate action plan.

Their projections indicate that under the “best case scenario,” with the 2019 Climate Action Plan fully implemented, Ireland’s 2030 emissions will be 24 per cent lower than 2018 levels.

Commenting on these figures, EPA Director-General Laura Burke said that the next decade needs to bring major developments and advances in relation to Ireland’s response to climate change.

A full implementation of all current policies and plans throughout all sectors, Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by 2 per cent per year, which is the minimum amount required to meet the 2030 EU targets, according to Ms. Burke.

“For Ireland to meet the more ambitious targets as presented in the European Climate Law and Ireland’s Climate Bill, and to transform to a climate resilient, biodiversity rich and climate neutral economy by 2050, there needs to be a significant and immediate increase in the scale and pace of greenhouse gas emission reductions,” she said.

The Environmental Protection Agency has previously warned of Ireland being unlikely to achieve the 2020 emissions targets, such as in 2018, when Ireland’s overall emissions dropped by just 0.2 per cent.

Lockdown lifting & emission projections

Implementing the 2019 Plan without delay would also stave off a surge in emissions as economic activity and travel recovers, the EPA added.

Doing so would see a reduction of at leat 16.5 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in the agriculture sector between 2021 and 2030, which the EPA say is achievable by the uptake of low emissions slurry spreading techniques and switching to stabilised urea fertilisers for crops and pasture.

The EPA also stressed the importance of energy in achieving Ireland’s emissions goals, where if renewable energy provided 70 per cent of electricity generated, it would lead to a projected 25 per cent reduction in emissions from the energy industry.

The current commitment to have 500,000 homes retrofitted for improved energy efficiency by 2030 will aid Ireland’s emissions targets, with the EPA projecting that it will reduce energy used for space and water heating in Irish homes by 44 per cent.

Story by Thomas Hamilton