The NFLA All Ireland Sustainable Energy Forum notes the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) sober assessment of the state of the environment and the need for dramatic and radical action to reach climate change targets in 2030 and 2050. The report is not a surprise for the Forum as we have been consistently calling for a more ambitious policy in reducing carbon emissions and transforming the energy system in favour of renewables.
The seventh EPA report considers the current state of the environment in Ireland, across important areas like climate, air and water quality, waste and agriculture.
The three key findings of the report include:
- The need to establish a national environmental policy position.
- A full implementation of current environmental policies already in place.
- Establishing a greater link between the environment and health.
As the Forum is a member of the EPA’s expert committee on radiation issues and health and takes an active interest in the EPA’s wider work, NFLA notes a number of concerning matters from the report. One of the most concerning is the moves to tackle climate change – with the EPA grading Ireland’s current performance as ‘very poor’. The report outlines:
“While there has been some progress on renewable energy and ambitious climate action and adaptation plans, Ireland’s failure to significantly reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions results in a ‘very poor’ assessment. Meeting 2030 targets and our 2050 transition objective will require the full implementation of current policies and measures and significant national investments.” (1)
The report states that if only existing measures are implemented by the government carbon emissions decrease by just 6% over the next decade, but if additional measures adopted by the government from 2018, and again enhanced with the new government appointed in 2020, emissions may decrease by around 25% by 2030.
It is clear to the NFLA a comprehensive suite of measures is required to reduce emissions from agriculture, promote a wider and much more extensive renewable energy mix, bring in renewable solutions in transport with a stronger emphasis on public transport, cycling and walking strategies; as well as a much wider energy efficiency programme for residential properties, that should be led by Local Authorities. In our latest reports, we outline how important it is for the government to be as ambitious as possible in producing a green recovery out of the Covid-19 lockdown and actively considering 100% renewable energy and electricity solutions which are out there. (2)
Central and local government need to work together, and NFLA strongly advocate new powers and resources given to Councils to ensure they can assist in the critical necessity of decarbonising Ireland. As many Councils and the Dail have recognised, Ireland is in a state of climate emergency. For years actions have not been as impressive as the warm words given to this area of policy. NFLA call on Ministers to urgently give Councils the tools they need to be a core part of the low carbon solution. As part of coming out of the huge economic challenge of the Covid-19 lockdown, Ireland must deliver much more radical and urgent policies, as this EPA report starkly notes. Other EU states like Germany and France have already pledged in total £63 billion behind promoting such a green recovery, and the same is needed in Ireland. There would be a positive jobs and environmental benefit to such policies as well.
Ministers need to act now on the findings of the EPA. At the local level, the Government needs to give the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland real teeth and resources to promote effective partnerships with local councils. We need a Tipperary Energy Agency in every county in Ireland, and, if we did, the country would start reaching the climate targets it needs to. NFLA has put its recent reports on these matters into the Climate Action Minister Eamon Ryan, who spoke at our most recent meeting, and we will continue to urge and challenge ministers to move forward with radical action.
The NFLA All Ireland Sustainable Energy Forum Co Chair, Councillor David Healy said:
“The EPA State of the Environment Report paints a stark picture of the huge challenge there remains in Ireland to tackle climate emissions in a very short timeframe. For years Ireland has been behind the curve on these matters, well behind similar initiatives of other EU states. This report is a wake-up call for the government, for all political parties, and for all councillors across Ireland that we need to urgently work together to tackle the climate emergency. Give our Councils new powers, resources and authority to help enhance decentralised energy policies and this will provide one effective response to dealing with the climate emergency. It is clear if all levels of government, with the SEAI and EPA, and the low carbon sector do not work together more effectively, Ireland will not deliver in this area and both the environment and health could suffer accordingly.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 7771 930196.
Notes to Editors:
(1) Environment Protection Agency, State of the Environment 2020 report, 25th November 2020
(2) NFLA reports on responding to a green recovery and delivering a 100% renewable strategy –