The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has revealed Ireland exceeded its Kyoto limit on carbon emissions by more than 10% last year.
Minister for the Environment John Gormley said he fully accepted the EPA’s view that meeting targets by 2020 would be an enormous task.
“The EPA is absolutely right as the figures indicate how difficult it is going to be,” he said.
“The two sectors which are posing the greatest difficulty are agriculture and transport. We’re going to have to take radical initiatives in relation to transport, (such as bringing) forward the sustainable transport initiative so people have access to better public transport.”
The EPA said Ireland’s total emissions last year were 69.28 million tonnes, almost 6.5 million tonnes over the Kyoto limit of 62.84 million tonnes.
Mr Gormley said it would be detrimental to ignore environmental issues during a financial crisis.
“You hear the view in challenging economic times that we can’t afford the green agenda,” he said.
“Such a view is short-sighted. To have a sustainable economy, you must first have a sustainable environment.”
Mr Gormley said cycling in Dublin had increased by 17% from last year and he called on Dublin City Council to use a €5m grant to immediately fix potholes in cycle lanes.
“If the Dutch came to Dublin, it would be a cycling city,” he continued. “There’s no reason why it can’t be, as the city is mostly flat.”