EPA warns of delays in meeting ambitious climate goals

EPA warns of delays in meeting ambitious climate goals

Laura Burke, director-general of the EPA, informed the Citizen's Assembly that Ireland did not meet 2020 EU targets regarding the climate and emissions. Picture: Julien Behal

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has warned the Citizen’s Assembly of a significant gap between climate action planning, and the actual implementation of Ireland’s climate goals.

EPA director-general Laura Burke told the assembly that Ireland had failed to meet its 2020 EU target of a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and that current sectoral climate budgets will not be delivered as they do not add up to the 51% reduction that had been promised by 2030.

EPA data had shown that Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions went up by 4.7% last year, when they had originally been targeted to fall by 4.8% per year, Ms Burke said.

She also highlighted Governmental delays in organising national bodies to meet these climate goals, and implement the initial actions of the 2021 Climate Action Plan.

She said temperature increases, changes in precipitation patterns, rising sea levels, and more extreme weather events being seen across the world, demonstrated that climate change was the "defining challenge" of this century.

Ms Burke was speaking at a meeting of the Citizens Assembly at the Grand Hotel in Malahide.

Over the two-day assembly, several experts informed those present of the ways in which climate change was affecting Ireland's fragile biodiversity.

On Saturday, Liam Lysaght from the National Biodiversity Data Centre told the assembly that between a quarter and a third of the species his organisation had examined, were facing the threat of extinction.

He said that there were now more than 3,000 species on the conservation red list in Ireland, including plants, fish, and insects.

The Citizens Assembly, the first in the world to focus specifically on biodiversity loss and its discussions and recommendations, is made up of 99 randomly selected Irish citizens. 

It is being chaired by Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin of University College Dublin, who urged people to make submissions to the Assembly to highlight issues of concern. 

The assembly next meets on October 15 and 16.

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