14 Apr

Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas emissions projected to increase strongly.

2020 targets slip

Photo courtesy veeterzy.com

Blow to our Climate change fight as Greenhouse gas emissions projected to increase strongly.

According to the EPA, Ireland is unlikely to meet our 2020 EU greenhouse gas emissions targets.

They identify sectors under pressure such as agriculture, transport, residential, commercial, non-energy intensive industry and waste sectors.

What’s our target?

Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction target is to be below 20% of our  2005 levels by 2020.

How are we doing?

Well, not so good say the EPA, the Government body tasked with monitoring our progress. They indicate that our emissions will be only 4 – 6% below 2005 levels by 2020.  That’s an epic FAIL. They also say why.  It’s due to the policies we’ve followed to date and in particular lack of action to engineer a reversal of rising levels.  Simply put, our current policies and measures are not enough to meet the  EU 2020 targets, with emissions projected to continue to increase out to 2030 and beyond.

They also say why.  It’s due to the policies we’ve followed to date and in particular lack of action to engineer a reversal of rising levels.  Simply put, our current policies and measures are not enough to meet the  EU 2020 targets, with emissions projected to continue to increase out to 2030 and beyond.

If Ireland was a Soccer premiership team we would be heading for the Emissions relegation zone based on our dismal results.

How can we fix this ?

The latest disappointing results demonstrate the need for radical new and innovative actions to meet the challenges that we face in making the move to a low carbon economy.
Ireland’s EU target for 2020 is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the non-Emissions Trading Scheme (non-ETS) sector by 20 per cent on 2005 levels. The non-ETS sector covers emissions from agriculture, transport, residential, commercial, non-energy intensive industry and waste sectors.

The latest projections show that:

  • Ireland’s non-ETS sector emissions are projected to be 4- 6 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, compared to the 2020 target of 20 percent below 2005 levels;
  • Thanks to the recession in the early years of the period (2013-2020) we beat our reduction targets but that credit has been used up and will not be enough to allow Ireland to cumulatively meet its compliance obligations.  EWe will exceed our annual obligation targets from 2016 onwards.
  • Our lethargy on energy efficiency and renewable energy progress further adds to the uphill challenge that the State faces.
  • Based on current Govt policy we will see increased emissions from the agriculture and transport sectors. This will be approx 74 per cent of Ireland’s non-ETS sector emissions in 2020.

For the period 2015-2020, agriculture emissions are projected to increase by 4 – 5 per cent. Transport emissions pitch in with a 10 – 12 per cent increase on 2015 levels.

Beyond 2020.

New EU obligations for Ireland to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the decade after 2020 will be agreed at EU level during 2017.  So , the further away Ireland is from the 20 per cent reduction target in 2020, the bigger will be the compliance challenges in the following decade. We face a period of drastic action coming close to 2020 as the Government will be under growing pressure to avoid looming fines.

The numbers

An overview of total projected emissions by sectors (which include ETS and non-ETS emissions) under the With Additional Measures is presented in Table 1 below.

Table 1. Projected greenhouse gas emissions to 2030 under the With Additional Measures Scenario

Mt CO2 eq 2016 2020 2025 2030 Growth 2016-2030
Energy Industries 11.44 8.707 9.561 10.491 -8.30%
Residential 5.94 6.061 6.189 6.097 2.64%
Manufacturing Combustion 4.407 5.154 5.234 5.402 22.58%
Commercial and Public Services 1.957 1.592 1.744 1.824 -6.80%
Transport 13.018 13.072 14.839 14.702 12.94%
Industrial Processes 2.063 2.329 2.677 3 45.42%
F-Gases 0.991 0.916 0.836 0.722 -27.14%
Agriculture 20.019 20.643 20.646 20.156 0.68%
Waste 0.885 0.623 0.547 0.5 -43.50%
Total 60.72 59.096 62.273 62.892 3.58%

Talk was cheap- Greenhouse Gas emissions are not.

We are guilty of overpromising. (remember our Foreign aid promises?) This might be par for the course in electioneering mode but when it comes to international obligations we must deliver. A fact that is now starkly obvious to our dithering current Government.
Ireland has a national policy position that commits us to reducing our carbon emissions by at least 80% compared to 1990 levels by 2050 across the electricity generation, built environment and transport sectors while achieving carbon neutrality in the agriculture and land use sectors.
If we are to realise this policy position and our aspirations to transition to a low carbon economy, then any new measures to be included in the upcoming and future National Mitigation plans need to be innovative and effective to get Irelands emissions back on a sustainable trajectory. This will take planning, investment and time. Our Governments  don’t excel at the former and have little of either of the latter. It looks bleak!

Incineration dilemma

A major contributor to GHG , NOx and SOx emissions is from large commercial incinerators. There’s also RDF and Peat burning power stations. The projection of future drops in volumes from the Waste sector, in the EPA table 1 above looks suspect, as the monster 600,000 tonne Covanta Incinerator in Dublin (it will begin to accept waste in September 2017) will add significantly to the overall load already coming from Indaver’s 200,000 tonne burner in Carranstown, Co. Meath. No doubt the EPA  will grant a Licence to the 2nd Indaver Burner slated for Ringaskiddy in Cork Harbour (currently before an Bord Pleanala). They did so on previous applications. So it is ironic that the EPA highlights our lack of progress in reducing  GHG emissions but will stand by and allow the Waste sector to contribute increased  GHG loads in the future. The lack of joined up thinking here is yet another explanation of the mess we are increasingly discovering about our Government policy and practice.

A ban on any new WasteTo Energy Incinerators will have immediate positive impact on cutting GHG emissions and focus our activities on Circular Economy compliant waste solutions, which will further benefit our economy.

Soccer teams in trouble and destined for relegation generally fire their manager. Unless results improve, maybe that’s an option for us too?

Our relegation will also mean massive EU fines, that’s our tax money gone to Europe and not available to us for our Country’s urgent needs. Ouch !

Fines or investment dilemma.

Might it be more rewarding to borrow the funds (at current very low interest rates)  to invest in accelerated  Electric transport infrastructure, Green Energy production incentives (solar farms, wind energy parks, micro generation), phase out of Peat Burning plants,   accelerate Energy efficiency incentives (commercial and domestic), initiate serious deep retrofit activity, create a national High Speed Train System to get traffic reduced and run education programmes to change our mindset on energy use and emissions. The interest on these loans will still cost much less than the EU fines and we will have assets to show for our efforts.