Ryan says updated climate plan will show there are shortfalls in some emissions targets

Social Democrats TD says even if Government implements all of its commitments on climate change it will only get to 29% of emissions cuts by 2030, well short of 50% target

Ireland’s updated National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) will show that there are shortfalls in some of the targets on reducing climate emissions, Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan has said.

Mr Ryan said the plan would nonetheless demonstrate “significant progress” on reducing emissions across Government, and would also showcase the most recent plans, policy developments and ambition throughout the document.

The Green Party leader was speaking at a meeting of the Oireachtas Environment Committee, which examined progress on the NECP. The draft document will be put out to public consultation in the autumn, and will be submitted to the European Commission later this year.

Mr Ryan said revised EU targets plan to reduce Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions by 55 per cent in 2030 compared to 1990. This, he said, has resulted in a significant increase in the contribution Ireland needs to make to ensure Europe can meet those targets.

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“Whereas previously Ireland needed to reduce its non-ETS sector – primarily agriculture, transport and built environment – greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent compared to 2005, that target has now increased to 42 per cent,” he said.

Under the revised Energy Efficiency Directive, he added, Ireland must reduce its final energy consumption to 10.45 million tonnes of oil equivalent.

Jennifer Whitmore, a Social Democrats TD, told Mr Ryan that the “elephant in the room” was not the National Energy and Climate Plan but the EPA report that showed that even if the Government implements all of its commitments on climate change it would only get to 29 per cent of emissions reductions by 2030, well short of the 50 per cent target.

“The Government is failing in being ambitious enough. You have had a year and have failed to add any policy that would result in even a 1 per cent of additional reduction,” she said.

Mr Ryan accepted that it was very challenging for the Government to meet targets with a growing population and a growing economy. He said it was not just about 2030 but getting to 90 per cent by 2040. That was the long-term challenge.

He said that additional measures had been done that had not been captured by the EPA as they were very hard to model. He instanced the new biomethane strategy as well as the Dublin city centre clean transport initiative.

Richard Bruton of Fine Gael asked why the NECP had to go out to a second public consultation. “Are we swamped by consultations?” he asked. “Renewable energy seems caught in the planning system. This needs to be part of the public dialogue.”

He asked why there was a need for another public consultation on electric vehicle charging when a policy had already been published.

Mr Ryan said it was the same with Cork Bus Connects, which is going to another public consultation now.

“I am pulling my hair out seeing that the [Cork Bus Connects] project needs to be finished quickly and councillors and the public are behind it. This happened in Dublin. There was a really good consultation on Bus Connects in 2018. That was six years ago. That is part of the problem. We have such lengthy and complex legal requirements on public consultation that it takes so long, it undermines the benefit of the system.”

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