Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions are set to rise to 28% above 1990 levels unless there is a change in government policy. This would double the permitted increase agreed under the EU emissions reduction package being presented at Kyoto. The stark warning comes from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) in Dublin in its report The Costs to Ireland of Greenhouse Gas Abatement. By 2010 rapid economic growth will push emissions -- chiefly from energy generation and transport -- well above the 15% increase agreed with the EU in March. This agreement was based on the Department of the Environment's forecast, which assumed a much lower rate of economic growth. Efforts to limit the increase should be spread across all sectors of the economy, says ESRI. It favours a tax on greenhouse gases, but accepting this would not be feasible in the short term. The report says the next best solution would be quotas which could be traded between countries. The worst possible result for Ireland would be the adoption of a rigid regime where quotas could not be bought and sold within the EU. This would reduce the growth rate of Irish and other EU economies. "I do not think [the government] has recognised the magnitude of the problem," Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) chairman Paul Dowling told the recent European wind conference in Dublin. IWEA is calling for 1000 MW of wind energy, double the government's existing policy target. Ireland's Environment Minister Noel Dempsey points out that the ESRI report presents the worst case scenario for the possible costs of greenhouse gas abatement. Nonetheless, the government has commissioned a major study to examine options for intensifying existing policies and identifying new actions to limit emissions.
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