An EU Commission report has said that Ireland is not on track to reach its climate targets, namely its greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets.

Ireland is committed to reducing its GHG emissions in the non emissions trading system sector by 20% between 2005 and 2020, it says, but according to the latest national projections it is likely to miss this target by a wide margin, with the authorities expecting emissions to decrease only by 3% in 2020 compared with 2005.

The EU report said that no progress was made in identifying how Ireland commits itself to meeting its existing, binding climate and energy targets for the period up to 2020 in an integrated way and how best to use the earmarked, available EU support for the structural development needed in the different areas.

Charles Stanley-Smith of An Taisce’s Climate Change Committee has said to be found to be not on track to meet the targets is damning enough but to be reported as not having an integrated way of making the huge improvements necessary will be truly cataclysmic.

“Meanwhile, Minster Kelly has omitted placing any mandatory targets whatever in his new Climate Bill, stating this was unnecessary as Ireland is already bound by EU GHG targets. The European Commission report today shows the hollowness of the Minister’s rhetoric,” he said.

The report also states that agricultural emissions in Ireland are expected to remain stable between 2005 and 2020.

In light of this An Taisce has said that though it is technically accurate, this statement glosses the reality that agricultural greenhouse gas emissions had fallen by 9% by 2011, yet they are now strongly increasing again as a result of Food Harvest 2020 – due to the expansion of livestock numbers, especially in dairy cattle.

“Emissions are already up 4% in two years and the EPA project continued emission rises until at least 2025. Given the need to cut emissions, Food Harvest 2020 is clearly not delivering on our climate commitments,” An Taisce said.

The report states “Emissions in transport, the second largest non-emissions trading system sector in terms of emissions, are expected to increase significantly between 2005 and 2020. This is mainly due to the lack of public transport, including the underdevelopment of rail and the lack of infrastructure to make it possible to reach national targets on electric mobility.”

An Taisce says that there is a systematic lack of implementation of the 2009 Department of Transport “Smarter Travel ” policy, which required that the total kilometres travelled by the national car fleet would not increase from 2009 levels and car based commuting be reduced nationally to 45% by 2020. Instead Ireland is still building over-scaled motorways like Gort Tuam M17 and widening the N7 with extra lanes, which will make the situation worse.

The EU report also states that including methane and nitrous oxide in Ireland’s carbon tax net would provide a sensible way of including agricultural climate pollutants in an integrated climate policy.

“Given Ireland’s claims of highly efficient agriculture, supporting an EU-wide carbon tax inclusive of agricultural emissions would be an economically sensible and climate-smart policy,” it says.

Charles Stanley-Smith stated “Minister Kelly, Minister O’Donoghue, Minister Coveney, Minister White and Taoiseach Enda Kenny should explain to the Dail and the Irish public why they have failed so far and what urgent steps they intend to take immediately to meet the huge gap between the paltry 3% and our 20% target, which is only five years away. Especially as the Commission finds that we have no integrated plan to achieve this.”