Future technology developments needed to hit long-term climate targets

Published by Kayle Crosson on

June 20th, 2019

Future technological development will play a key role in helping the State to meet its long-term emissions targets, the Minister for Climate Action has said.

Addressing the Oireachtas Climate Action Committee yesterday on the Government’s newly launched Climate Action Plan to Tackle Climate Breakdown, Richard Bruton fielded a variety of questions on its content and implementation.

The Plan contains 180 actions in areas such as electricity, transport, agriculture, heating and waste that the Government says will help us meet our 2030 emissions targets, including generating 70 per cent of electricity from renewables.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan pressed the Minister on the Government’s intention of hitting a two per cent annual emissions reduction up until 2030 and their deferral of larger emission reduction rates of seven to nine per cent in the decades to follow. 

Such reductions after 2030, Mr Ryan noted, would be an incredible challenge, adding that only planning for a two per cent annual drop now will means that we are putting off the larger gains for later.

The things that will help in that later journey are not all economic at this point, Mr Bruton said in response, later referencing carbon capture and carbon reduction technologies.

Mr Bruton cited cost as a barrier to certain climate actions, but noted that particularly in the case of electric vehicles, there is “very strong confidence that the technology will quite quickly bring a tipping point for the adoption of electric vehicles”.

Under the plan, the government aims to have approximately one million electric vehicles on the road by 2030. Mr Ryan went on to reiterate his earlier criticism of the transport section of the plan, referring to it as “woeful” and shows a “complete lack of ambition for change, for real efficiency and for long-term decarbonisation”.

The Department of Transport has committed to a “massive change” in the plan, Mr Bruton rebutted, and noted that “there is huge commitment to improving public transport and changing the nature of the fuel use within it”.

Brid Smith TD of People Before Profit referred to the plan as “ayers of green clothing that are around what really masks a business opportunity for industry”.

She criticized the continued development Dublin airport, noting that “the report doesn’t look at the aviation industry at all.”

In response, Mr Bruton noted that the airline industry falls under the Emissions Trading System (ETS) within Europe and that the Government supports changes in the ETS to “demand more contribution from those airlines in making the change”.

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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.