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Ireland's Climate Change Targets


Ireland has 2 main targets related to the reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions, the Kyoto Protocol and EU 2020.

With regard to Kyoto, Ireland committed to reducing, by 2012, emissions to 13% above those in 1990. It appears that we will meet this commitment through a combination of the recession and the closure of many companies with a very large energy footprint such as IFI, Waterford Crystal and Irish Steel.

Indeed the reduction in 2011 emissions when compared to 2010 is stark, with analysts attributing most of the decrease to the economic downturn.

Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions fell by 6.7% in 2011 to 57.34 million tonnes.

Key emissions reductions in 2011 were as follows:

  • Energy emissions (principally electricity generation) decreased by 10.5%;
  • Residential sector emissions decreased by 15.6%;
  • Industry and Commercial emissions decreased by 10.7%;
  • Transport sector emissions decreased 2.7%;
  • Agriculture emissions decreased by 1.9%.

However the low hanging fruit has been picked and the EPA believes that we will not meet our reduction targets under EU 2020, which for Ireland is a 20% reduction in non-Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) emissions by 2020, from a 2005 baseline. As allocations under the ETS will, from 2013, be EU wide (as opposed to country specific) Ireland’s performance can really only be measured against non-ETS emissions.

The EPA projects that we will not meet our targets from 2015 onwards. One of the main reasons for this will be the expected increase in agricultural output. This is estimated to grow significantly up to 2020, mainly due to the lifting of EU quotas on production.

So from 2015/16 onwards its quite likely that Ireland will need to purchase a significant quantity of carbon credits at taxpayers’ expense. It is as yet unclear how the Government plans to address this issue in a coordinated way.