GREEN INVESTMENT CAN DRIVE ECONOMIC RECOVERY AND HELP US REACH OUR CLIMATE GOALS
Today’s joint publication by the EPA and SEAI estimates an almost 6% reduction in Ireland’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, compared to 2019 levels. It is clear that much of the decrease in emissions is as a result of the pandemic and its effects on the economy and society, particularly in the transport area where emissions fell by almost 17%.
Emissions from the energy sector fell by 14% with the substitution of coal and peat by renewable energy playing a greater role. In this sector we are on track to meet our goal of 70% renewables by 2030. Emissions from agriculture did not repeat the decrease of 2019 and it’s clear that this sector will have to do more to meet our revised national ambition.
Overall these findings demonstrate the scale of the challenge in meeting our Programme for Government commitments of an average 7% per annum reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions from 2021 to 2030 (a 51% reduction over the decade) and to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Just doing less than business-as-usual will not be enough; we must make fundamental changes to how we do business and how we live our lives.
In meeting this challenge, we must ensure a green economic recovery for our citizens. Our public investment decisions, including the review of the National Development Plan and the operation of the Recovery and Resilience fund must be climate-driven. By investing in walking, cycling and public transport, renewable energy, warmer homes, diversifying agriculture, and building a circular economy we can achieve our targets and create the new jobs we need as we emerge from the pandemic.
The revised Climate Bill sets the framework for how we will make these changes, and will be followed by sectoral emissions targets . I am now leading the preparation of the next Climate Action Plan, which will set out actions that must be taken across every economic sector in order to ensure we deliver on our commitments.