Ireland falling behind on environmental Sustainable Development Goals, finds new global analysis

Published by Manus Boyle on

July 11th, 2018

Ireland is continuing to fall behind on its environmental commitments under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a new global analysis has found.

The Sustainable Development Goals Index and Dashboards Report compare different nations’ performance on the 17 goals at the centre of the UN’s sustainable development agenda.

The SDGs, or global goals, seek to achieve over 150 targets aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring prosperity for all people by 2030.

The report is the first worldwide study to assess where each country stands with regard to achieving the goals.

This year’s report shows that Ireland has made progress on some of the social goals but continue to perform poorly when it comes to action in meeting its waste, climate action and ocean protection goals.

It shows that further efforts are needed to protect biodiversity and support sustainable production and consumption.

The measure takes into account factors such as our emissions within Ireland, emissions embodied in the goods we consume, climate change vulnerability, and exported emissions from fossil fuel shipments. The report shows that Ireland continues to make no progress in these areas.

With a global index score of 77.5, Ireland is well behind Sweden (85), Denmark (84.6) and Finland (83) who made up the top three countries on the list.

The Sustainable Progress Index for 2018 launched by Social Justice Ireland earlier this year was also critical of Ireland’s progress on its environmental commitments.

The report states that Ireland performs particularly poorly in terms of waste and emissions reduction and that the State has been playing catch up on the environmental front since it joined the EU.

“What is clear is that when compared to our EU peers, Ireland is either only keeping up or is falling behind on the environment SDGs,” the report states.

Latest in long line of failures

Speaking today, Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan said that the report is the latest in a number of “damning reports” on Ireland’s record on climate and environmental issues.

An analysis by Climate Action Network Europe released last month ranked Ireland in second last place for action and ambition on climate change in the EU.

Last year, the Climate Change Performance Index found that Ireland was the worst performing country in Europe for action on climate change. The Index placed Ireland 49th out of the 56 countries examined.

“Fine Gael has utterly failed in this area and continue to stick to their old development model,” Mr Ryan added.

Mr Ryan also criticised the Government for passing the Heritage Bill, which he called “damaging” and a threat to Irish wildlife.

The Heritage Bill, which passed through the Dáil last week, outlines plans to allow for the burning of heather and gorse in March and hedge cutting in August under a so-called pilot project.

High-level Political Forum

World leaders, Ministers and hundreds of civil society groups from around the world will be at the UN headquarters in New York this week for a High-level Political Forum on the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Irish government will be reporting back at the ten-day forum on the key goals under review for 2018, including those on clean water and energy, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production and protecting life on land.

Denis Naughten, Minister for Climate Action and Environment will be in New York on Tuesday 17th July to present Ireland’s first Voluntary National Review detailing the steps the Government have taken in the implementation of the Agenda 2030.

A delegation from Coalition 2030, a grouping of over 100 Irish civil society organisations, is also attending the event and will launch its own shadow report next week.

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Manus Boyle

Manus is an MA Journalism student at DCU. He has an interest in the environment, the outdoors and live music.