Ireland 'playing catch-up on climate change obligations', admits Minister

Update 4.26pm: The Government Minister charged with overseeing Ireland's new plan to combat climate change has declared it a moral necessity.

More than 100 initiatives are proposed to reduce emissions, including cutting the speed limit on motorways from 120km/h to 110km/h and finding cleaner replacement fuel for Moneypoint power station.

Denis Naughten, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, said it was the first step in getting all of government to address the issue of greenhouse gases.

"As a country, we are playing catch-up on our obligations in relation to climate change," he said.

"This obligation is as much an opportunity as an obligation. In any event, it is a moral necessity and a vital national interest."

The National Mitigation Plan includes a considerable number of reviews over the next few years, such as one on the future of peat power plants and another setting out what subsidies are given for fossil fuels.

It has a goal for all new cars to be zero emission in 2030, that the Dart line can be extended to Balbriggan by 2022 and that HGV speed limits could be reduced to 80km/h.

It recommends 14 compressed natural gas refuelling stations be set up and a grant scheme for electric vehicles by 2020.

Retrofitting of homes is also an important factor in energy efficiency, with a special scheme to see 1,500 properties upgraded, while landlords will come under pressure next year to have minimum thermal standards.

Guidelines on wind energy are to be finalised next year while Government planners are also being asked to consider approaches to integrated policy that would reduce travel demand and encourage more walking, cycling and public transport and more efficient and cleaner transport.

The plan asks for analysis of suitable reservoirs for carbon storage, more support for biomass and a review of how farming can be improved.

Mr Naughten said: "On climate change, change is possible. Our role is to put the levers for change into peoples' hands.

"This is our work at home, while abroad we stand firm in our commitment to the Paris Agreement. Energy efficiency is central to this plan. This is because using less energy and using it more efficiently is the most cost-effective and accessible way to tackle climate change."

The plan has drawn criticism from environmental groups however, with Friends of the Earth Fdrector, Oisin Coghlan saying: "The bottom line is that this plan fails the fundamental test of a climate action plan, it doesn't say how much pollution will be reduced as a result of the actions it lists.

"Perhaps because too many of them are still 'under consideration'.

"A half decent plan - like the last plan 10 years ago - would identify the emissions pathway we are on now, list the measures we are now going to take to reduce emissions, and state how much lower emissions will be as as result of all the measures in the plan.

"This document just doesn't to that."

Earlier:

Environmental campaigners have expressed disappointment with the government’s new blueprint for tackling climate change.

The new National Mitigation Strategy includes 106 proposals which are aimed at lowering carbon emissions in line with global targets.

The plan includes a review of subsidies offered for fossil fuels, and commitments to invest in public transport fleets.

But groups like Friends of the Earth say there’s no new concrete actions in today’s plan.

Director Oisin Coghlan has hit out at he fact the government can’t say exactly what effect its own proposals will have.

Opposition TDs have also hit out at the plan.

People Before Profit TD Brid Smith said teh whoil epackage wa snot goo denoiugh.

"By 2020 we will have failed to meet our European targets ... it will work our more expensive and damaging for environment unless we step up to the plate and make some radical changes."


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