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Emissions increased throughout Ireland during Covid lockdown

Robert Besser
23 Oct 2021

DUBLIN, Ireland: Ireland has not met EU commitments to reduce carbon emissions by 20 percent between 2005 and 2020, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Data indicated that Ireland's emissions are only 7 percent below 2005. However, Ireland earlier signed onto an EU agreement, known as the Effort Sharing Decision.

Statistics also show that Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions fell by only 3.6 percent in 2020, despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. They had fallen by 4 percent in 2019.

"This represents the first time we will fail to meet a clear international commitment," said Paul Price of Dublin City University, as told to Prime Time.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Department of Environment confirmed that Ireland will purchase additional carbon allowances under the EU's Emissions Trading System to make up for not meeting the carbon emission goals.

"Pre-Covid estimates of the additional costs of purchasing carbon credits for compliance with these targets were in the region of €6 million to €13 million, depending on the price and final quantity of allowances required," the spokesperson said, as quoted by RTE.

Hannah Daly of University College Cork, said that greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by only half the rate Ireland needs to meet its climate targets.

To meet its commitment to the 2030 targets under the Government's Climate Action Plan, Daly said Ireland must reduce carbon emissions by 7 percent each year.

Of note, emissions from home heating rose by 9 percent in 2020, most likely due to the public remaining in their homes during lockdowns.

Also, emissions in the agriculture sector rose, as production was not halted during the pandemic.

Laura Burke, CEO of the EPA, told Morning Ireland that it was "disappointing" that agricultural emissions, which account for 37 percent of all emissions, had increased by 1.4 percent, after falling slightly in 2019.

The Government's Climate Action plan is to be published early in November.

The action Plan will, for the first time, set emissions targets for some sectors of the economy.

"We could have taken this approach long ago, but at least it's finally happening. It's the only chance we have of having policies that will match our climate commitments," Burke said.

"We need to examine every policy, not just in terms of jobs and growth, but how it affects our emissions based on likely fossil carbon use."

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