According to the 2018 Climate Change Performance Index, Ireland has plummeted 28 places from last year and now lies 49th out of 59 countries examined — the worst performing country in Europe.
The report, which is compiled by Germanwatch, the NewClimate Institute and the Climate Action Network, is scathing in terms of its assessment of Ireland’s commitment to tackling climate change stating that Ireland is “one of the few EU countries to miss its 2020 emission reductions targets” — the prime reason it ranks “very low” in climate policy.
Ireland’s performance in the field of greenhouse gas emissions is also described as “very low” with the report stating that Ireland is “nowhere close to being on track” to keeping rising temperatures below 2C.
Only in the area of renewable energy does the Climate Change Index offer any positive comments for Ireland.
“We observe a very positive trend in the development of renewable energy, but as the current share of renewable energy in energy supply — as well as the 2030 target — are insufficient, Ireland rates only medium in the renewables category,” states the report.
Sweden leads the way in terms of its commitment to tackling climate change, according to the index. It is followed by Lithuania, Morocco, Norway, and the UK.
Reacting to the report, head of science and communications at Friends of the Earth Ireland, Dr Cara Augustenborg, said the Irish Government has repeatedly sought to exploit loopholes in order to delay taking concrete action on climate change commitments.
“Just last week the Citizens’ Assembly put forward 13 concrete recommendations for climate action to allow Ireland to catch up with our European neighbours and end nearly a decade of dithering and delay.
“Yet at national level, we’ve seen a new climate action plan which does not guarantee any immediate reductions in pollution. And at EU level, we’ve seen repeated government efforts to have loopholes inserted into EU legislation currently under negotiation which would hinder greater climate action,” she said.
Policy co-ordinator for the Stop Climate Change Chaos coalition, Jerry Mac Evilly, said the report laid bare “the continuing and disturbing contradiction between Government rhetoric on climate change and the sad reality of policy implementation in Ireland”.
Te Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment said progress had been made on greenhouse gas emissions and that the projected shortfall to 2020 targets “reflects both the constrained investment capacity over the past decade due to the economic crisis, and the extremely challenging nature of the target itself”.
It said Ireland’s first statutory national mitigation plan, published in July, provides a framework to guide investment decisions by Government in domestic measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.