Ambitious climate change strategy proposed

A carbon tax, international emissions trading and substitution of a major coal-burning plant by gas plant are among the initiatives proposed in the Irish government's new climate change strategy. Outlining the details of the strategy last month, environment minister Noel Dempsey said that business as usual is not an option. Ireland's high economic growth has led to a sharp rise in greenhouse gas emissions. The country has already hit its Kyoto growth limitation target of 13% -- ten years early. "Our real challenge now is, in effect, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 20% in the next ten years," says Dempsey. The strategy sets no new targets for renewables beyond the 500 MW of additional renewable generating capacity by 2005 set out in the government's 1999 green paper on sustainable energy. This would mostly be from wind and would save one million tonnes of carbon. The Irish Wind Energy Association, however, maintains that 1000 MW is achievable -- and the strategy paper accepts that "significant further expansion" of renewables will be needed if Ireland is to make a fair contribution to Europe's 12% target of energy from renewables by 2010. The biggest carbon saving will come from substituting the 900 MW coal fired power station at Moneypoint for new combined cycle gas turbine plant by 2008. This measure alone saves 4.15 MTC. Other key initiatives are phasing in greenhouse gas taxation; participation in international emissions trading; and reducing methane emissions from agriculture -- mostly by reducing livestock numbers.