Ireland has a 'challenge beyond compare' to cut carbon emissions

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Ms Donnelly said that while companies formed a large part of the challenge, it was also up to individuals to play their part, especially around transport. PA images
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By Press Association

Ireland has a "steep mountain to climb" in a "challenge beyond compare" when it comes to reducing emissions by 50 per cent by the end of the decade.

Those were some of the stark conclusions made by the new chairperson of the Climate Change Advisory Council, Marie Donnelly, and Environment Minister Eamon Ryan at an event by the British-Irish Chamber of Commerce, as they addressed companies and stakeholders in the energy sector.

Ms Donnelly said that while companies formed a large part of the challenge, it was also up to individuals to play their part, especially around transport.

Roughly speaking, one third of emissions from transport comes from you and me. It is what we do in our journeys, and our choice of journeys.

“Changing the emissions profile of one-third of the transport sector has to be undertaken by us as individuals.

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“I think this is one of the real challenges in talking about community. This is one of the areas where for people to understand what they are actually emitting in their daily lives, and to have access to alternatives and choices, will be a key issue going forward.

“It isn't to say that big business and large transport can't do more – of course not – but one third is still a fairly big chunk of the transport sector that you and I can have an impact on, and this would be one of the opportunities."

Carbon budgets

Ireland is following what is now seen to be the emerging good practice in five-year carbon budgets and annual action plans breaking down the sectors, she said.

“The challenge we are going to face in Ireland is going to be very significant. Just to give headline figures, we are currently at about 60 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent emissions. By 2030, we will need to get to 30. The current action plan adopted in 2019 will save 16 of those.

“So we need another 14, which effectively means we will have to double our efforts vis-a-vis what we thought we were going to do in order to achieve our objective by 2030. It's a very steep mountain to climb, it is going to be challenging, but this is the opportunity for us to really deliver on that," she said.

Mr Ryan said cooperation between Ireland and Britain would be crucial in achieving the "challenge beyond compare" of reducing emissions by 50 per cent, because the environment does not recognise borders or the Irish Sea divide.

Cork, Dublin, Rosslare and other Irish ports would be key in connecting renewable power supplies across Europe.

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