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EPA figures highlight Government failure on climate change

6 Feb 2007

All political parties should commit to a climate pollution law

The latest figures on Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions reported in today's Irish Times highlight the extent of the Government's failure to tackle climate change. The EPA figures show the rise in Ireland's climate pollution is almost twice the level we committed to under the Kyoto Protocol. The Government agreed to limit the rise in emissions to 13%. Now we see that in 2005 emissions were 25% above 1990 levels and the trend is upward. Unless urgent action is taken the taxpayer will be paying the price of the Government's failure. On these figures the bill to buy our way out of our Kyoto Commitment will be at least 375 million euro, rather than the 270 million admitted by the Government in December's budget [see note 1 below].

Commenting on the figures, Friends of the Earth Director Oisin Coghlan said

"This Government signed the Kyoto Protocol 10 years ago. This Government agreed to a 13% limit for our pollution growth. This Government says repeatedly that Kyoto is only a first step and more intense action will be needed. And yet 10 years on our emissions are rising faster than ever. Three Ministers for the Environemnt - Demspey, Cullen and Roche - have all failed to convince the Government to take the issue seriously. The Government's first climate strategy has clearly failed. And all the indications are that the long overdue revised plan will contain no new policies capable of reversing the rise in Ireland's emissions."

Friends of the Earth is calling on all political parties in advance of the election to commit to a Climate Security Act making it the law to reduce emissions by 3% year on year.

"It's clear long term targets don't work on their own. It's too easy for the Government to keep putting off the action required. A Climate Security Act would ensure that we bring down our emissions step-by-step, year by year. It's the only way to ensure Ireland does its fair share to prevent climate chaos of the sort the UN report highlighted. A climate law will help Ireland make the shift to a low-carbon economy in a managed way that guarantees our long-term prosperity and enhances our quality of life. Otherwise we face much greater disruption and upheaval down the line," Mr Coghlan concluded.

Such a climate law is now under active consideration by the British Government, where it has the support of the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. California recently passed a law with binding pollution targets for 2020 and 2050.

1) The Government allocated 270 million to the purchase of carbon credits on the basis of needing to buy 18 million tons at 15 euro a ton. On these figures Ireland's Kyoto overshoot will be at least 35 million tons of which about 10 million will be covered by businesses in the EU trading scheme. That still leaves at least 25 million tonnes to be covered by government. At 15 euro a ton that is 375 million euro.

2) The Irish Times story on the figures is available here without a subscription.

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