Ireland’s new greenhouse gas emission targets revealed by European Commission

Ireland must cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030, according to new targets, announced by the European Commission today.

Today’s targets are expressed as a percentage reduction from 2005 emission levels. The targets for Member States range from 0% to -40%.

Ireland will have to reduce its emissions by 30%, relative to its 2005 emissions. There are 11 other Member States with higher targets, mostly the wealthier countries of the EU.

Ireland will have 4% one-off flexibility from emissions trading, at the highest end of the ranking. Ireland will also have 5.6% flexibility from land use.

This is a substantially larger margin than any other Member State except Latvia.

EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said the EU has an ambitious emissions reduction target, one he is convinced it can achieve through the collective efforts of all Member States.

“The national binding targets we are proposing are fair, flexible and realistic.

“They set the right incentives to unleash investments in sectors like transport, agriculture, buildings and waste management. With these proposals, we are showing that we have done our homework and that we keep our promises.”

While the overall EU target is a reduction of 40% on 1990 greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, every Member State negotiates an individual target, and individual one-off flexibility from emissions trading and a margin of flexibility from land use.

The negotiations take account of a range of factors and aim to share the burden of emissions reduction as fairly as possible.

Today’s package of measures also includes a transport strategy aimed at moving Europe towards low-emission mobility. Financial support is available from existing mechanisms, with €70 billion available for transport under the European Structural and Investment Fund, among other options.

Agriculture is Ireland’s largest carbon emitter, responsible for 47% of the total. The next largest emitting sector is transport, at 29%.

Environmental Protection Agency figures show that Ireland is unlikely to meet its 2020 EU greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

It highlights projected increased emissions from the agriculture sector as a key driver impacted by the Government’s Food Wise 2025 Strategy.

Agriculture is projected to account for 47% of Ireland’s emissions from the non-Emissions Trading Scheme (non-ETS) sector. For the period 2014-2020, agriculture emissions are projected to increase by 6 – 7%.

Ireland’s EU target for 2020 is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the non-Emissions Trading Scheme (non-ETS) sector by 20% on 2005 levels. The non-ETS sector covers emissions from agriculture, transport, residential, commercial, non-energy intensive industry and waste sectors.

However commenting on the figures, Laura Burke, EPA Director General, said the agriculture, forestry and land use sectors should achieve effective greenhouse gas emissions neutrality by 2050.

“This will take planning, investment and time but can be achieved in the overall framework of national, EU and global commitments,” she said.