Saturday, 17 February 2007

EPA calls for measures to tackle emissions

This from Liam Reid writing in the Irish Times:

The director general of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Dr Mary Kelly has called for new measures to be introduced to tackle Ireland's greenhouse gas problem, after new figures showed that emissions have surged by more than 1.3 million tonnes.
Figures released this morning by the agency show that in 2005 emissions grew by 1.9 per cent to just under 70 million tonnes, reversing the declining trend of recent years.
They now stand at 25.4 per cent above 1990 levels, more than 12 percentage points above Ireland's legally-binding Kyoto target of 13 per cent above 1990 levels.
The increase was largely caused by a jump of nearly 7 per cent in emissions from the transport sector, while the reopening of two peat-fired power stations also contributed to the rise.
It is the first time in more than four years that there has been an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, and the figures contradict previous Government claims that emissions had been decoupled from economic growth.
In last December's Budget the Government also announced it was setting aside €270 million between 2008 and 2012 to purchase carbon credits abroad in order to meet the Kyoto target.
Under the agreement, a country can use flexible mechanisms to purchase credits from developing countries which have made cuts, rather than making the reductions at home. This is the single biggest element in the Government's strategy to meet its Kyoto target.
Dr Kelly said the figures were "disappointing", and that the figures on transport emissions were "particularly worrying". She said the Kyoto target would be met through the purchase of credits and other measures such as emissions trading. However, she warned that this would be insufficient.
She added: "Policy makers must use the detailed breakdown of figures in each sector, provided today, to focus on all areas where reductions are possible and need to be achieved." Dr Kelly also warned that further cuts beyond the Kyoto target were almost certain to be set after 2012.
"In the post-Kyoto period emissions reductions in the order of 15 -30 per cent on 1990 emissions are being proposed to avoid irreversible and damaging climate change," she said.
"Europe is aiming to limit the inevitable global temperature increase to just two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times. Ireland needs to play its role in meeting this objective."
Apart from buying carbon credits, the Government has yet to unveil any new measures to meet its Kyoto commitments in addition to those in its seven-year-old greenhouse gas strategy.
The Government has already abandoned key elements of this current plan. These include plans for a carbon tax, along with the conversion of the coal-fired Moneypoint power station.
The Government is to publish a new revised strategy in April, more than six months late. It will include measures already announced in the Budget, including changes to vehicle registration tax and motor tax. From 2008 a new system, where rates will be based in part on the amount of emissions from vehicles, is to come into force.

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