Industrial Emissions Photo: Dirk Duckhorn
Industrial Emissions Photo: Dirk Duckhorn

State spends €86m on carbon credits to effort to bridge gaping gap to 2020 targets

June 14th, 2019

A letter received by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has revealed that Ireland has spent €86.8 million to date on carbon credits to try and meet its 2020 European emissions targets.

The letter signed by Mark Griffin, the Secretary General of the Department of Communications Climate Action and the Environment (DDCAE) contains details of Ireland’s solution to buy unused ‘carbon credits’ from EU states.

PAC chairperson Seán Fleming TD condemned the findings from the (DCCAE) as a “gross hypocrisy”. The Fianna Fail deputy said that making the letter public was “of benefit” and due to the recent surge of “interest in green matters, it is a public concern”.

Mr Fleming said that the Government should come up with a “sustainable development plan” in relation to lowering emissions.

He added that the Government will make an announcement next week on the issue and that the soon to be released Climate Action Plan should shed more light on Ireland’s future climate strategies.

By 2020, Ireland’s emissions should be 20 per cent below their value in 2005 in order to meet EU goals.

The latest figures from the EPA predict that by 2020 we will be between 0-1 per cent below the 2005 value. A spokesman for the Government confirmed that the €86m was spent on carbon credits in 2008 and 2009.

Solar Panels photo Auroville Foundation

Renewable energy bill looming

Mr Fleming also warned that Ireland could have to pay up to €60 million extra to meet its current renewable energy targets, as well as possible looming fines for not hitting its targets.

The Renewable Energy Directive provides a system for EU countries to buy carbon credits from member states that have overachieved on their renewable targets.

Member States negotiate prices and the final cost depends on the quantity of carbon credits and price at the time of purchase.

The Department estimates that we will have to spend a further €6-13 million to purchase these carbon credits and meet 2020 targets.

The Department stated that it is “exploring options” to purchase credits directly from other EU states.

When it comes to renewable energy, we have a legally binding target of 16 per cent of our energy from renewable sources by 2020.

The SEAI 2017 data estimates that we will achieve between 12.7-13.9 per cent of that 16 per cent target.

By Marianne Foody

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