Ireland's climate action failures will see greenhouse gas emissions reduced by just 1% next year.
Environment Minister Richard Bruton told the MacGill Summer School this morning this was far from the target which had been a 20% reduction in emissions by next year.
Outlining new proposed targets, he told the audience that the plan now was that some 33% of cars on Irish roads would be fully electric or hybrids by 2030. Under the government's climate action plan, no new car purchased then will be fuelled by fossils. This compares to the 98% of vehicles that are fossil-fuelled today.
"Climate disruption is the biggest challenge facing this generation. Previously Ireland set a target of a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
However current forecasts suggest that only a 1% reduction will be delivered. Ireland has not been lacking in ambition, but in delivery.
"There has been no roadmap, no coherent strategy that would in fact deliver on the commitments made. We cannot countenance another failure,” Mr Bruton told the audience in Glenties, Donegal.
Dr John Sweeney, Emeritus Professor of Geography at NUI Maynooth, said Ireland was half a degree warmer than in the last 30 years ago and would be another half degree warmer in the next 30.
There would be more winter rain Donegal and less summer rain in eastern regions, he warned.
He said the warmer weather would help grow barley but not potatoes and grass while peat lands would not last. Dr Sweeney pointed out that the national parks budget was just €11m a year compared to the €16m that went into the greyhound industry and the €60m that went to Racing Ireland.
Dr Sweeney also warned that Ireland would move into carbon debt by 2024
“That will be the legacy for our grandchildren to think about,” he stressed.
Green leader Eamon Ryan said he was talking to every political party about how to tackle climate change. And there was a desire to go into government because that was the way to effect change from “the top down”.
Ireland’s carbon tax should increase to €35 per tonne of emissions, report says
Ireland’s carbon tax should increase to €35 per tonne of emissions next year, an influential official report said.
Further significant rises will be necessary over the coming decade to tackle climate change linked to carbon dioxide, an advisory panel added.
The levy is widely advocated as an important element in tackling global warming.
Money raised from it should help build a low-carbon economy, the Climate Change Advisory Council added.
Council chair Professor John FitzGerald said: “The impacts of climate change often seem distant from everyday life, but we have experienced several extreme weather events in recent years which have exposed the vulnerabilities of our society and economy.
“Despite these events, awareness of the need for adaptation remains low.
Adaptation is not only a matter for Government but will require a response by households and the business sector.
A carbon tax is designed to have users of fossil fuels pay for the climate damage caused by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
The Council added: “Robust carbon pricing is essential to support action by individuals and businesses to eliminate their greenhouse gas emissions.
“The revenue raised should be used to ensure a just transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient and sustainable economy and society, protecting those on low incomes.
The Council recommends that the carbon tax increase to €35 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent in Budget 2020, increasing to at least €80 per tonne by 2030.
Generation of electricity using peat should also cease next year, the annual review said.
The Government was urged to invest in retrofitting local authority buildings as part of an urgent overhaul of the wider building sector.
In recent years, the expansion of the national dairy herd has been the major contributor to increases in agricultural emissions.
The review said: “Reduction of the suckler herd would make an important and cost-effective contribution to mitigation, could support alternative land uses, such as afforestation, raise farm incomes and reduce exposure of the sector to external market shocks.”
The Council recommended that the Government publish the detailed plan to achieve its commitment to end the burning of coal at Moneypoint by 2025.
Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton, said the Council’s advice has had a substantial influence on the development of the recently published Climate Action Plan.
He added: “While the focus of the recently published Plan has been on the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the Advisory Council’s report is a timely reminder that we must also ensure that appropriate consideration is given to embedding robust adaptation measures across the system.
“This feedback will be taken into account as we develop our 2020 Plan.”