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EPA figures reveal €90 million windfall profit for Ireland's biggest polluters

9 Nov 2011

Friends of the Earth
For immediate release
9 November 2011


EPA figures reveal €90 million windfall profit for Ireland's biggest polluters
Taxpayer foots bill as emissions overshoot Kyoto target despite recession

Today's figures from the EPA on Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 reveal that the country's biggest polluters have received a windfall profit of €90 million from selling unused carbon credits they got for free form the Government, according to an analysis by Friends of the Earth. Meanwhile the taxpayer has forked out over €86 million to buy overseas offset credits because Ireland's emissions are still above our Kyoto target.

Commenting, Friends of the Earth Director, Oisín Coghlan, said

"Today's emissions figures show once again how Irish climate policy is skewed in favour of vested interests and big polluters, with ordinary taxpayers left to foot the bill. The government gave away valuable credits to big polluters and then had to buy more from overseas to cover our emissions overshoot."

"With a much bigger challenge ahead to meet our 2020 targets it's crucial that there is increased parliamentary oversight of ministerial climate policy to ensure the polluter pays and not the taxpayer. This kind of political reform is a central part of an effective climate law."

The figures presented by the EPA today indicate that to meet our current EU 2020 target, Irish emissions will have to decrease by an average of just over 2.5% a-year, year-on-year.



1. The seven-page EPA report "Ireland's Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 2010" is online here:

2. The * footnote to Table 1 shows that in 2009 20.03 Mt of free emissions permits were allocated to Irish companies participating in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. Their certified emissions for 2009 were 17.22 Mt leaving them with 2.81 Mt of unused carbon credits they could sell on. The average market price for ETS permits in 2009 was €14 giving a windfall profit of €40 million.

3. The same footnote shows that in 2010 20.96 Mt of free ETS emissions permits were allocated but only 17.36 Mt were used so 3.6 Mt were available to sell on at an average price of €14.5 for a windfall profit of €52.2 million.

4. Table 1 also shows that our "distance to target" for the first three years of our Kyoto commitment (2008-2010) was 6.65 Mt.

5. So the Government gave away 6.41 Mt of emissions permits (2.81+3.6 from notes 2 and 3) that companies could sell on and then had to buy 6.65 Mt of emissions permits to cover our "distance to target".

6. According to the pages 14 and 15 of the Carbon Fund annual report 2010, produced by the NTMA, Ireland has purchased or committed to purchase a total of 8Mt of overseas offset credits at an average price of between €13 and €14. The minimum spend to cover our "distance to target" (Kyoto overshoot) is therefore €86m.

7. Irish emissions in the non-ETS sector in 2010 were 44.28MT. The EPA presentation gave 37.3Mt as the 2020 target for non-ETS emissions. If emissions fell 2.5% in 2011 and 2.5% a year, year-on-year, thereafter they would fall to 34.37Mt in 2020.

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