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Carbon budgets signal the start of an urgent, radical transformation

26 Oct 2021

Reacting to the release of the Climate Council’s proposed Carbon Budgets this evening, Friends of the Earth Director, Oisín Coghlan, commented:

“The publication of the proposed Carbon Budgets signal the start of the most rapid and radical change in the Irish economy and society in our lifetimes.

“If you think of Whitaker and Lemass, free second level education, joining the EU, or the referendums of the last decade, the transformation we are now embarking on is all of those things rolled into one, and more.

“We are starting to hear about the competition between sectors for the limited Carbon Budget, agriculture versus home heating, power generation versus transport. But the truth is, if we stick to this Budget we will all be winners, with a cleaner, healthier, safer future. If we fail we will all be losers, facing accelerating climate breakdown with all the costs and destruction that will bring.

“The figures in Carbon Budget One and Carbon Budget Two are broadly in line with the scenario Friends of the Earth identified as “Catch Up”. It will not be a perfectly smooth reduction pathway from 2018 to 51% carbon savings by 2030. The average year-on-year savings in the first five-year Budget to 2025 is just under 5%, while the average year-on-year savings in the second five year Budget will be 8.3%.

“This represents a just about acceptable degree of “backloading” as it has been called. This is not the same thing as delaying action, it’s simply a reflection of the fact that new policies take time to have an impact. But to live with these budgets and hit our legally binding 2030 target, every Government decision from now on must be weighted towards cutting pollution, likewise every business decision, and the public need support to make less polluting options accessible and affordable for all.

“We now await the Government’s Climate Action Plan next week to see does it deliver policies and measures that match these budgets and put us on the path to halving our emissions in 9 years.

“We now need the same concerted political leadership on climate, month-in, month-out, year-in, year-out, as we have seen on Covid over the last 19 months.

“There is one disturbing item in today’s report from the Climate Council. Their indicative Carbon Budget for 2031-2035 seems far too generous. It seems to suggest that our rate of pollution reduction will slow down after 2030! I have seen no scenario where that makes sense.

“It is worth remembering that challenging as our new 2030 target is, it still does not represent our fair share of the global effort to fulfil the Paris Agreement and limit global warming to 1.5C. Therefore there is no pathway that is compatible with climate justice in which our reduction efforts slow down after 2030. It will be interesting to hear the Council’s rationale for their indicative 2031-2035 Carbon Budget. When the Oireachtas Committee considers the Council’s proposed Carbon Budget Programme I am sure this will be teased out. As the 3rd Budget is indicative only, there is plenty of time to review and revise it before it is voted on and becomes binding in 5 years time."

ENDS

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