Ireland’s poor climate action performance continues

7 December 2020 

While seeing a marginal improvement in its ranking, Ireland remains a low performer in the newest international climate rankings published today. 

The 2021 Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) found Ireland to be in 39th place in climate mitigation efforts, up two places from last year’s 41st position. 

The state remains classified in the “low” category of the index for the second consecutive year, having previously been categorised as “very low”. 

The slight improvement is “based on policy promises”, according to Stop Climate Chaos Policy Coordinator Sadhbh O’Neill. 

“Now we must see the action plan to actually start eliminating polluting emissions. Otherwise, we’ll continue to languish in the bottom half of the climate league table and fail to do our fair share under the Paris Agreement,” she added. 

The Index publication comes on the same day over a thousand people are set to meet their TDs regarding the Climate Bill so that, “it’s strong enough to drive the changes we need to see,” Ms. O’Neill said. 

Ireland’s position improved in the Renewables category of the index, remaining within the high performance category and also saw its energy use performance remain steady with a “medium” rating. 

“Potential for improvement” 

If government policies are translated into concrete actions, then Ireland “has considerable potential for improvement”, according to Stop Climate Chaos.

The Programme for Government published earlier this year committed the coalition of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party to an “average 7 per cent per annum reduction” in overall greenhouse gas emissions over the next ten years. 

The document also commits the government to “achieving net zero emissions by 2050”. 

The current drafting of the Climate Action (Amendment) Bill reiterates this goal, but the document’s language is widely considered to be weak as the Government is to “pursue” the target, rather than “pursue and achieve”. 

The biggest laggard for the country’s climate policy continues to be agriculture, Stop Climate Chaos note, and state-supported intensification of dairy has led to higher methane and nitrous oxide emissions. 

Central Statistics Office (CSO) data released earlier this year showed that agriculture continues to be the country’s largest emitting sector, and now accounts for over a third of total emissions. 

The Environmental Protection Agency also found in its 2019 emissions projections that agriculture emissions declined by almost 4 per cent, which was attributed to the declined use in fertiliser and lime. 

However, the expansion of the dairy herd has continued, with its size increasing for the ninth consecutive year by 2.8 per cent. 

Between 2014 to 2019, dairy cow numbers increased by almost a quarter and milk production rose by 41 per cent. 

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Kayle Crosson

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