New study critical of Ireland’s draft climate plan

Published by Niall Sargent on

April 15th, 2019

Ireland’s draft energy and climate plan does not live up to the Paris Agreement goals, a new report from Europe’s largest NGO climate coalition has found.

The new report launched today by Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe highlights the key features of draft National Energy and Climate Plans (NECP) sent to the European Commission last year.

The European Commission will issue each member state with recommendations in June and completed plans will then be submitted by the end of 2019.

The plans are a legal requirement and are designed to ensure EU member states collectively achieve the bloc’s climate and energy targets for 2030.

The CAN report analysed the draft NECPs of 24 countries, finding that Sweden, Portugal, Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland and France have high ambition to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest.  

Minister for Climate Action Richard Bruton at stakeholder meeting Photo: Niall Sargent

‘Lacks concrete policies

Ireland’s draft plan released last December, however, does not demonstrate high ambition on energy savings and renewable energy and lacks concrete policies and measures for the coming decades, CAN Europe finds.

Ireland must claw back emissions in the non-ETS sector – transport, buildings, waste and agriculture – by 30 per cent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

According to the CAN Europe report, all four emission reductions scenarios outlined in our draft plan project that we will miss our cumulative target by between 42 and 94 million tons of CO2 equivalent.

Key policies riding against Ireland include the fact that we still plan to invest in fossil gas “all the way until 2030 and beyond”, according to the director of CAN Europe, Wendel Trio.

This, he added, is despite the Commission’s proposal for the EU to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest.

“Lukewarm commitments and actions will not allow the EU to become climate neutral by mid-century,” he said.

The European Commission’s 2019 Country Report for Ireland also recently found that our climate plans fall short of the level of ambition required to put Ireland on a path to achieve its 2030 targets.

The draft National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) “does not clarify investment needs until 2030”, the Commission found.

Climate Strike Photo: Kayle Crosson
Irish youth are demanding action as part of global climate strike movement Photo: Kayle Crosson

“The final NECP, to be finalised by the end of 2019, should include new national objectives for 2030 as well as concrete policies and measures across the energy and climate areas,” the Commission stated.

Landmark Oireachtas report

Catherine Devitt, Policy Coordinator of the Stop Climate Chaos civil society coalition said that the report “confirms what we have known to be true for a long time”.

“Not only is Ireland off track to achieving its targets, but that commitments and statements from the Department about ramping up ambition are still just words without concrete action.

“In the next draft of the NECP we need to see new policy measures that actually set Ireland on a clear pathway to meeting its 2030 and longer-term climate obligations,” she added.

Ms Devitt said that the report should put pressure on the Government to redraft the plan based on the recommendations put forward in the recent landmark Oireachtas report on climate action.

The report, which will officially launch tomorrow, is widely ambitious as the Committee recognises that the window of opportunity to reduce emissions and avoid severe climate impacts is rapidly closing.

Among numerous recommendations, the Committee wants to see a new target of net zero emissions by mid-century put in place in new climate legislation, as well as 70 per cent target for renewables on the electricity grid by 2030.

The Committee also wants to see five-year departmental carbon budgets from 2020 onwards, with the CAN Europe report also recommending  that the NECP should include two five year carbon budgets up to 2030.

 Jennifer Higgins of Christian Aid Ireland said that the Committee’s report gives the Government “both a mandate and an opportunity to revise its targets” in the next NECP draft.

“It is imperative now that the Minister and his department adopt and implement the policies recommended by the Joint Committee,” she said.

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Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London