General

Ireland is ranked 2nd worst in Europe for tackling climate change

Ireland is the second worst country in Europe when it comes to tackling climate change, with Poland last according to a report published by Climate Action Network Europe.

The report looks at how countries perform in reaching their targets. It looked at the aims and progress made by the 28 EU countries fighting climate change. Ireland ranked at 28th. Sweden is ranked second, as they are on track to meeting their climate and energy targets for 2020, and they have a vast amount of renewable energy.

We in Ireland are set to miss our 2020 climate and renewable energy targets and we’re also off-course for the 2030 emissions target. Ireland will face annual non-compliance costs of around €500 million if efforts are not made to cut emissions.

The top position of the ranking is uninhabited as all EU countries are off target and are failing to increase their climate action in line with the Paris Agreement goal according to CAN Europe. They also advised EU countries to urgently and substantially increase its action.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan blames a lack of political will, “We’re shamed, we’re right down at the bottom of the latest league table. The main reason is not that Irish people aren’t good at this or Irish people don’t want to do it, it’s lack of ambition in government. It’s lack of our government within European Union and elsewhere pushing for higher targets, pushing for ambition. We can turn this around, all that’s missing is political will.”

Ryan also said, ”We want that Committee to focus on what the public sector can do and to influence the drafting of the new National Energy and Climate Plan, which we have to present to the EU in the next year.”

Transport and agriculture emissions are significantly increasing. Ireland has failed to prepare effective policies to place near-term climate action with EU and Paris Agreement commitments. CAN Europe recommends that Ireland stop using peat in electricity generation by 2019 and coal use by 2025.

Back in April, The Citizens Assembly published a report that makes a number of suggestions on how Ireland should tackle climate change, such as higher taxes and increased public transport. The Assembly made the following 13 recommendations by majority vote: 97% of the Members recommended that to ensure climate change is at the centre of policy-making in Ireland, as a matter of urgency a new or existing independent body should be resourced appropriately, operate in an open and transparent manner, and be given a broad range of new functions and powers in legislation to urgently address climate change.

100% of the Members recommended that the State should take a leadership role in addressing climate change through mitigation measures, including, for example, retrofitting public buildings, having low carbon public vehicles, renewable generation on public buildings and through adaptation measures including, for example, increasing the resilience of public land and infrastructure.

96% of the Members recommended that the State should undertake a comprehensive assessment of the vulnerability of all critical infrastructure (including energy, transport, built environment, water and communications) with a view to building resilience to ongoing climate change and extreme weather events. The outcome of this assessment should be implemented. Recognising the significant costs that the State would bear in the event of failure of critical infrastructure, spending on infrastructure should be prioritised to take account of this.

93% of the Members recommended that the number of bus lanes, cycle lanes and park and ride facilities should be greatly increased in the next five years, and much greater priority should be given to these modes over private car use. The recommendations were of course, among many others.

The Green Party has welcomed the publication of the report and says that the findings advertise the government urgently need to take strong climate action.

Efforts will need to be made locally and internationally by governments, public agencies, businesses, industries, communities and individuals if we hope to combat climate change. Achieving major reductions in the use of fossil fuels is essential if Ireland is to secure the major cuts being sought in GHG emissions. Our leaders need to apply policies for a cleaner and more sustainable country.

Weather patterns are changing due to climate change, which is causing problems for many people. In Ireland, there is an increase in average temperatures, rainfall and a reduction in the number of frost days. In the future, there will be even more extreme weather, water shortages in summer and an increase in flooding which will impact on plants, animals and marine life.

Small changes can make a big difference to the environment such as leaving your car at home even one day per week and cycling or walking instead. This will reduce greenhouse gases and help to improve your health. Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency has advice on their website on what you can do to protect our environment.