The Government has been accused of making a "charade" of its climate change promises after it emerged it has spent more than €86m to date in buying itself out of international environmental targets.
The Dáil's public accounts committee outlined the situation after the National Treasury Management Agency confirmed the figures and said another €66.5m may need to be spent to buy Ireland out of renewable energy targets before the end of next year.
Under repeatedly stated international climate change targets, countries across the world have been asked to cut down on their carbon emissions and pollution levels, with a 16% reduction by 2020 outlined.
However, countries struggling to meet those targets can also buy extra emissions space from other nations in return for those other nations effectively covering their emissions targets.
In a detailed letter to the PAC, the NTMA - which has overall control of keeping track of Ireland's emissions payments - said that, to date, this country has spent €86.6m of taxpayers' money on purchasing credits from other countries.
In addition, it said a further €67m may need to be spent on renewable energy target credits from other countries by the end of next year.
This is because while Ireland has a target of 16% renewable energy by the end of 2020, this country's level is currently at 13%, with international auctions suggesting the going rate is €22.5m per percentage point.
"This is horrific," said PAC chairman and Fianna Fáil TD Sean Fleming.
"I want everybody interested in climate change to know it is a charade what we are doing, we shouldn't have to spend taxpayers' money to buy our way out, we should be doing the right thing in the first place."
The figures emerged as the Government continues to finalise its cross-departmental climate change plan, and just days after former US secretary of state John Kerry told an audience in Cork on Monday that governments are failing to take the climate change crisis seriously.