Sunday 17 June 2007

Roche notes EEA publication on greenhouse gas emissions

The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has noted the publication by the European Environmental Agency (EEA) of greenhouse gas emissions data for 2005.

The EEA repor is based on data supplied by Member States. In Ireland, greenhouse gas emissions data is compiled by the EPA.

The EEA report records a decrease in emissions for the EU as a whole between 2004 and 2005 - largely due to the use of less carbon-intensive fuel in power generation and reduced fuel consumption for heating purposes in households and businesses.

Within this overall trend, emissions from a number of Member States - including Ireland - increased slightly between 2004 and 2005. The data for Ireland - which has already been published by the Environmental Protection Agency in February of this year (Click Here) - shows that our 2005 emissions were 25% above the base-year level - or, 12 percentage points above the 13% target which must be reached over the 2008-2012 period.

The Minister commented - "The data for Ireland has already been published by the Environmental Protection Agency in February of this year. While the growth of 1.9% in Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions in 2005 is disappointing, it was well below the 5.5% growth in the economy recorded for 2005 - so, it is clear that we are still decoupling emissions from economic growth."

Detailed analysis of the data shows that, in a number of sectors - notably the waste, residential and agriculture sectors, emissions are either stable or are on a decreasing trend. Lower emissions in the agriculture sector can be attributed to lower livestock levels and decreased fertiliser use. Much of the increase in Ireland's emissions can be attributed to two factors - the fact that new peat-powered electricity plants had their first full year of operation in 2005 and the increase in private car ownership.

The Minister emphasised that the National Climate Change Strategy 2007-2012, published in April, sets out the basis on which Ireland will meet its Kyoto Protocol targets. It recognises that emissions had been projected to increase - but the measures that have been put in place already, coupled with additional measures set out in the new Strategy, will reverse this trend.

The Strategy addresses measures to all sectors of the economy - including energy, transport, agriculture, the residential sector and businesses. It includes existing measures put in place on foot of the 2000 National Climate Change Strategy and, subsequently, through the National Development Plan 2007-2013, Transport 21, the Energy White Paper and the Bioenergy Action Plan. It also includes a series of additional measures to deliver the overall objective of putting Ireland on a pathway towards a low-carbon economy.

Ireland's Kyoto Protocol target:

Ireland must reduce its emissions to within 13% of 1990 levels during the 2008-2012 period. This level is equivalent to 63 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.

The National Climate Change Strategy, published in April 2007, shows that the total contribution of measures adopted by the Government, will account for 80% of the effort that Ireland will need to meet its Kyoto Protocol commitments. The remaining 20% will be made up by Ireland's use of the Flexible Mechanisms.

The flexible mechanisms allow Kyoto Protocol Parties to support the development of clean technology in the developing world in return for emissions credits. Projects must meet stringent criteria laid down by the UN to ensure that they achieve actual emissions reductions. Only verified emissions reductions will result in credits being issued by the UN.

€270 million has been allocated under the National Development Plan 2007-2013 for investment in such projects over the lifetime of the Strategy.

The use of the Kyoto Protocol mechanisms to purchase credits is separate from the EU Emissions Trading Scheme - in which only companies can buy and sell credits.

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