Urgent implementation of “all climate plans and policies, and additional new resources” will be needed for Ireland to meet its legally binding emission reduction target of 51 percent by 2030, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In its latest greenhouse gas projections up to 2040, EPA data indicate that Ireland is struggling to meet its carbon budgets over the next decade due to a “significant gap” between them and projected emissions, which is broadest in agriculture. and transport sectors.
Total greenhouse gas emissions are estimated to have increased by 6 percent last year, the EPA predicts, but the five-year carbon budget adopted by the Oireachtas by 2025 calls for emissions to be reduced by an average of 4.8 percent annually. The budget until 2030 requires an average 8.3 percent cut each year.
“A methane emission reduction of nearly 30 percent is required to achieve a 22 percent reduction in agricultural emissions,” it adds. This would require the adoption of the more demanding target in a range recommended by the Climate Change Advisory Council.
The Government has agreed to a 22-30 per cent reduction for agriculture earlier this year, and is due to sign specific carbon ceilings for all sectors in the coming weeks.
“The sector needs to clearly define how this will be achieved to address uncertainty about its ability to deliver even the lower end of the range of its sectoral targets within the ever-shrinking timeframe until 2030,” says the EPA.
With the end of Covid-19 restrictions, the EPA estimates that transportation emissions will increase by 18-19 percent over the period 2020-2022. However, it says it is still possible to achieve a 39 percent reduction in 2018 emission levels by 2030 if there is full implementation of government plans and policies in place and of additional initiatives announced but not yet implemented. Key measures include getting more than 940,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2030 and measures to support more sustainable transportation.
The EPA concludes that the demanding 2030 targets – particularly halving emissions – can still be met but “only if all planned measures are implemented and delivered”. This would also put the country on the path to climate neutrality by 2050.
In that scenario, the impact of reduction measures “will result in declining emissions from 2023 onwards”. The data, however, indicates that all sectors need to do significantly more to meet their 2030 reduction targets.
EPA CEO Stephen Treacy said: “The message from the authors of the recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on climate change has been clear – whether or not we want to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. profound emission reductions in all sectors will be impossible. “
He said the gap between the “existing measures” and “with additional measures” scenarios in their projections meant that the current speed of implementation would not achieve the change required to meet the Climate Act targets. Faster implementation of “additional measures” is needed to close this gap, he said.
Despite the likely shortfall, increased renewable energy generation, if delivered as planned, could reduce energy industry emissions by 10 percent annually from 2021-30, it predicts – reaching up to 78 percent renewable electricity production by 2030.
Spending more time at home because of hybrid home / office work and the rising cost of fossil fuels has highlighted a need for improvements in home heating efficiency and better insulation, says the EPA. Current policies and measures can only deliver a 24 percent reduction in emissions from this sector by 2030.
“This underscores the need to implement additional policies and measures such as those in the climate action plan, which include installing 680,000 heat pumps by 2030 and also renovating 500,000 homes. These are projected to achieve a 41.5 percent reduction in housing emissions by 2030 compared to 2018. “
Based on existing measures, the number of dairy cows is projected to increase by 13.3 percent (202,000 cows) by 2030 compared to 2020, but the number of cows is projected to decline by 30 percent. Total livestock in 2030 is projected to be a 6.8 million (6 percent) (428,000 cattle) decrease compared to 2020. Because dairy cows produce more methane per animal than other livestock, this overall decrease in animal numbers does not reduce methane emissions, says the. EPA.
Details of the 2021-2040 emission projects are available at epa.ie