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The heat is on:time is running out to make emissions cuts

1 Oct 2012

The Irish Times

Harry McGee

ANALYSIS: The NESC report due out today predicts we will meet our 2020 EU emissions targets, writes HARRY McGEE

THE GOVERNMENT'S climate change policies are geared towards the EU target of reducing emissions to 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.

For Ireland to achieve this, it had to set the bar very high. There is a recession now, but 1990 was pre-boom and the economy has not regressed to anywhere near those lower levels of activity.

That huge drop needs to take place in the non emissions-trading areas (industry, energy, pharma) of the economy - agriculture, transport and buildings.

Thus, some very ambitious targets: a 20 per cent drop in energy costs for buildings through energy efficiency measures; some 40 per cent of Ireland's energy, and 12 per cent of heat, to be from renewable sources; and 10 per cent of power-generation for vehicles to be renewable.

That last means more biofuels and more electric vehicles (EVs). The current policy has it that 10 per cent (or 200,000) of the car fleet will be EVs in eight years' time (an impossibility).

Environmental groups have long argued that we should follow the lead of the UK and introduce climate change legislation to give statutory footing to all the targets. Some have criticised Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan for delaying its introduction.

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