Ireland ranked 2nd worst member state in EU climate action report

Ireland has come up severely short in a recent study carried out on EU member states in their endeavours to reach their climate action and emissions goals, as set out in the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The study – carried out by the Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe – revealed that Ireland is currently the second worst member state in its achievement of climate goals, topped only by Poland as the most severe offender.

‘Off Target’

The report – titled ‘Off Target: Ranking of EU Countries’ Ambition and Progress in Fighting Climate Change’ – sought to examine which EU member states are willing to increase their climate action and tackle the gap between the goals of the Paris Agreement and current greenhouse gas emission reduction efforts in the EU.

According to the rapporteurs, ranking assesses both the role that member states play in setting “ambitious climate and energy targets and policies” – and what progress they are making in reducing carbon emissions and promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency at home.

All member states were found to be off-target compared to their agreed goals.

The leaders relative to the EU overall were found to be Sweden – with a respectable 77% score on achieving targets; followed by Portugal, France and the Netherlands – with scores of 66%, 65% and 55% respectively.

On the other end of the scale, the bottom three countries with the poorest scores were Estonia, Ireland and Poland – with 24%, 21% and 16% respectively.

Suorce: ‘Off Target’, Climate Action Network Europe

Chiding the table-proppers on their performance, the rapporteurs said: “Estonia, Ireland and Poland rank lowest because of their stiff opposition to climate action nationally and in the EU.

“These countries should be supporting stronger climate action because of the numerous co-benefits of speeding up the transition.”

Under the spotlight

Regarding Ireland specifically, the report stated: “Ireland is set to miss its 2020 climate and renewable energy targets and is also off-course for its unambitious 2030 emissions target.

“Emissions from the transport and agriculture sectors are increasing significantly. Ireland has failed to prepare effective policies to align near-term climate action with EU and Paris Agreement commitments.

Without new, immediate and substantive efforts to cut emissions, Ireland faces annual non-compliance costs of around €500 million.

“At EU level, Ireland failed to join the group of progressive EU member states calling for increased EU climate ambition and played a negative role in the negotiations of the EU 2030 climate and energy legislation, pushing for loopholes to dilute the laws,” the report noted.


The ‘Off Target’ report offered recommendations to Ireland to help improve its current standing.

These include the following:
  • The Irish Government needs to radically revise its National Mitigation Plan, currently subject to legal challenge, and immediately put in place measures in the transport and agriculture sectors;
  • All use of peat in electricity generation needs to end by 2019 and coal use by 2025;
  • The Irish Government needs to implement the Citizens’ Assembly proposals; this model of citizen-directed hearings with experts should also be promoted at international, regional and local levels;
  • Ireland needs to join the group of progressive EU member states calling for increased EU climate ambition and deliver urgent, near-term emissions reductions.

The study noted that the Irish Citizens’ Assembly had made proposals to “greatly enhance climate ambition”, adding that the Irish Government is now tasked with incorporating them into climate plans.

On a positive note, the report also pointed out that the Irish electricity grid has “an impressive potential of integrating high levels of renewables, especially wind power, which can still be further developed”.