Friday, 15 December 2006

State's climate change performance 'atrocious'

From Irish Times:

Carbon trading allowances to be bought by Ireland over a five-year period account for less than the equivalent of one second of all global greenhouse gas emissions, according to Minister for the Environment Dick Roche.
But Green Party leader Trevor Sargent said the emissions could be the equivalent of 20 hours a year. He criticised Ireland's climate change performance as "atrocious" and fourth worst in the world per capita after the US, Australia and New Zealand.
They were speaking during the introduction of the Carbon Fund Bill, which provides for the purchase by the State of €270 million in carbon allowances between 2008 and 2012.
Mr Roche said that "the purchase of carbon credits is a legitimate, practical and logical option under the Kyoto Protocol". If there was an absolute cap on carbon emissions, this would require every industry to cut emissions to a pre-determined figure. "While this idea has clear merit, it also has cost implications which, in the Irish case, would be ruinous for many businesses."
The Minister said he met representatives from the Irish pharmaceutical sector which, they said, directly employs 24,000 people and exports goods to the value of €40 billion, with a further 20,000 to 30,000 people employed in related areas.
The sector incurs significant energy costs and is part of the trading system, but it would face a perilous future if we were to introduce more restrictive measures."
Mr Sargent said, however, that when "we describe ourselves as being part of the European project and so forth, we are about twice the EU average as regards carbon emissions". Then "we try to present Ireland as a clean and green country. Long may that brand work for us, but it is not helped by the reality of our climate change failure."
Fine Gael's environment spokesman, Fergus O'Dowd, said "the reality is that unless all of us make fundamental changes in our homes, our lifestyle, where we work, how we go to work and where we live, we will not deal successfully with the issue of climate change."
And it was "disingenuous of the Minister to suggest that regardless of how bad our emissions are in Ireland, they are only minuscule in terms of the world's emissions".
Labour spokesman Eamon Gilmore said that "Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats Party never took Kyoto seriously. It took them three years to produce a national climate change strategy, which they then ignored".
He added: "With just over five years to go until the 2012 deadline, Ireland is now 23-26 per cent above the 1990 level, depending on whose figures one takes."
Sinn Féin spokesman Arthur Morgan said it "is a pure stunt for the Minister to try to convince members that the purchase of a further €270 million worth of
carbon allowances constitutes an environmental measure. This is a cost that taxpayers should not be obliged to bear.
"Had we acted to cut emissions, we would not be forced to purchase such allowances."

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