‘If Irish emissions don’t start to fall rapidly in 2023.. credibility on climate will crumble’

Observers and climate activists stress that implementation now urgent

There was a mixed reaction to the Government climate action plan published yesterday, with environmental NGOs, Opposition politicians and academics all agreeing that the test for the plan would be in how quickly and effectively it is implemented.

The Social Democrats climate spokesperson Jennifer Whitmore said that the plan would not be “not worth the paper it’s written on unless the targets are actually met”.

“Climate change is an existential crisis, but all this government has offered to date as a response is aspiration and missed targets. Setting ambitious targets is easy. It is the delivery that is hard. Regrettably, the Government’s record is a litany of failure,” she said in a statement.

“I have repeatedly told the Minister that I wish him success – because it is important for everyone on this island that he does succeed. Unfortunately, I have no confidence in this government’s ability to deliver. Last year, our emissions went up by more than 5 per cent. This year, they are expected to rise by 6 per cent.


Friends of the Earth said the plan was “step in the right direction” but added that the real test was for the Government to “deliver at pace”.

“2023 must see a laser-like focus on implementation, implementation and implementation, not just from Ministers and their departments but also from the State agencies they oversee, from the CRU to Teagasc,” chief executive Óisín Coughlan said in a statement.

“Ireland now has a solid platform for serious climate action, from the law to the carbon budgets to the sectoral emissions ceilings and now this first statutory action plan. What we need now is consistent political leadership and determination to implement this plan and actually reduce emissions in 2023.

“If Irish emissions don’t start to fall rapidly in 2023, this government’s carefully constructed credibility on climate will crumble,” the group said.

Source: gov.ie

Many commentators noted the fact that the 2023 plan was the first since the climate Act made achieving the targets a legally binding obligation for Ministers.

The Climate Change Advisory Council, the group set up to advise the government on climate policy, said it was “an important step in meeting the legal commitments under the climate Act.”

Chairperson Marie Donnelly said: “It is the first plan published since the Oireachtas approval of our proposed carbon budgets and the announcement of sectoral emissions ceilings. Now there is an urgent need for the system to concentrate its efforts on implementation to address the gap between ambition and delivery.”

Farming organisations were critical of aspects of the plan, however. ICMSA president Pat McCormack said: “If the Government wants these changes, then it is up to it to identify the areas that require meaningful change and then fund those farmers who wish to make those changes.

“But that’s not what we get. What we get is vague aspiration or derisory funding in the really significant areas like dairy and beef livestock farming, while massive funding and concrete commitments are all directed at those areas like organics that are economically insignificant and where any change can only be marginal. This has been the problem all along and it’s still the problem as can be seen from today’s plan,” he said.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times