A report which looked at the aims and progress made by the 28 EU countries in fighting climate change ranked Estonia (24%), Ireland (21%) and Poland (16%) lowest.
The countries were among six including Cyprus (30%), Malta (30%) and Bulgaria (26%) rated as “very poor”.
The Off Target report by Climate Action Network, a leading non-government coalition fighting dangerous climate change also shows that no country got top marks.
Sweden, the best performer (77%), was rated “good” and was followed by “moderate” performers Portugal (66%), France (65%), the Netherlands (58%) and Luxembourg (56%).
All of the five high-scoring countries are advocating for more ambitious climate targets at EU level.
Most of the scores by member states were less than half of the possible points, indicating that they are not progressing fast enough towards the Paris Agreement goals.
Ireland’s poor position stems from dismal progress on 2020 climate and renewable energy targets and rising emissions from the transport and agriculture sectors.
It was criticised for not having effective policies and for failing to support greater aims in EU 2030 climate and energy legislation.
However, the report welcomes the innovative deliberative process of the Citizen’s Assembly and recommends that the Government radically revises its climate action plan on the basis of the assembly’s proposals on climate change.
The chair of the climate change committee of An Taisce, Phil Kearney, said it was “extremely concerning” to see Ireland again labelled as “a laggard” in terms of domestic and EU climate action.
“Not only is Ireland falling behind its EU counterparts due to the failure to decrease polluting emissions, the Government has continued to trumpet supposed exceptionalism and push for loopholes in EU legislation which serves to undermine EU-wide progress on climate change,” he said.
“The report by Climate Action Network highlights the urgent need for Ireland to implement the recent Citizens’ Assembly proposals and increase ambition in accordance with Paris Agreement commitments.”
The policy and advocacy adviser at Christian Aid, Jennifer Higgins, said that in January, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar committed himself to changing Ireland’s position as a “climate laggard”.
However, six months on it appeared that Ireland’s reputation for climate change was stagnating, not improving.
“This dismal ranking highlights the inadequacies of current policies and plans to fulfil our fair share of the global effort to deliver on the Paris Agreement,” said Ms Higgins.
The Government should revise its National Mitigation Plan, currently subject to legal challenge, and put measures in place immediately in the transport and agriculture sectors to achieve the level of decarbonisation needed.