EPA report shows that Government are kicking the can on climate action

Ivana Bacik TD
22 October 2021

Labour’s climate spokesperson Ivana Bacik said today that the EPA report showing Ireland’s slowing of emission reductions provides further proof that the government is kicking the can on climate action. Questioning Minister Ryan in the Dáil yesterday, Deputy Bacik called on the Minster to explain the lack of urgency, and in particular to say why Ireland’s carbon budgets remain unpublished.

Deputy Bacik said:

“The report published by the EPA this morning is truly alarming. The fact that our 2020 emissions slowed by 0.4% in a world that had ground to a halt due to the pandemic is really worrying. There can be no further delay, as the EPA itself said, Ireland must implement effective policies and measures as quickly as possible.

“Everything we do needs to be considered through the lens of climate. The changes that we will have to make must be underpinned by clear carbon budgets, yet these remain unpublished to date.

“According to the response I received yesterday from Minister Ryan, these carbon budgets are now not even expected to be published next week, meaning that the can will be kicked into November – when COP26 will already be well underway.

“The very fact that the publication and scrutiny of Ireland’s fiscal and carbon budgets was not aligned is troubling. It would have been useful to scrutinise Budget 2022 in the context of our vital climate action targets to ensure that they were aligned.

“Indeed, the recent budget showed little sense of urgency or the grand vision necessary to tackle climate change. The 9% increase in residential emissions, per the EPA report, was undoubtedly down to the pivot to remote working. With this behavioural change here for the long run, government must put in place a far more ambitious retrofitting programme and provide a commitment to establishing a national recruitment campaign so as to ensure that we have adequate numbers of workers to deliver that programme. Deep retrofitting has the dual impact of lowering emissions for the planet and lowering energy costs for households.

“Unsurprisingly, the EPA report shows that transport emissions decreased by 15.7%, proving the impact that leaving the car at home can have. Ensuring decent and reliable public transport has to be at the heart of any serious attempt to reduce carbon emissions – along with developing far better cycling and active travel infrastructure. I would urge the government to fast track its youth travel card proposals, and also to give further consideration to Labour’s proposals on transport which included free public transport for all young people. This would also have a knock on effect for parents and families. Rather than opting to take the family car, it should be more cheaper and easier for families to travel by bus, train, luas, dart, on their daily journeys.

“This morning’s report is yet another reminder that climate progress demands a whole of government approach. We need to be both ambitious and practical. Government needs to catch the low hanging fruit in areas like retrofitting and public transport, while also implementing strong carbon budgets to inspire both systemic and individual behaviour change to protect our planet. The kicking of the can on climate has to stop.”

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