Ireland’s emissions dilemma laid bare by new data

As elections beckon, climate may not be front and centre - but it is not an issue that can be avoided


It is sometimes said that in news, climate change is the story of our times but rarely the story of the day. That is reflected in our own polling, which suggests climate ranks as a lower-middle range issue for voters’ attention. However, it’s our lead story today, as Kevin O’Sullivan reports that Ireland is set to achieve a reduction of only 29 per cent in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared with its legally-binding target of 51 per cent.

As Kevin reports, the data now shows “a pattern of continually missed targets, when sustained emission cuts are required”.

This, of course, loads pressure onto the political system to deliver even sharper cuts while maintaining a critical mass of acceptance among voters - and within the Government itself. Climate and environmental issues have lurked as a fault line within the Coalition for its entire existence, one that periodically became visible but never truly threatened the wider stability of the Government. Given the Coalition has probably at this stage made the tough decisions on climate that it will make, at this point it seems unlikely to lead to a fundamental split.

However, the second carbon budget period (2026-2030) overlaps neatly with the next government’s term. The shortcomings of our current period mean more stringent limits for the second budget, with excess emissions from our current period carried forward. That suggests the State may have to curb economic activities such as in industry or agriculture, as Kevin outlines.

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The Green Party will seek to put these issues front and centre in the election to come. As Jennifer Bray reports alongside Kevin in the front page piece, Eamon Ryan is to brief Cabinet today with a dour overview of the rapid rate at which the climate is deteriorating, calling on the Government to accelerate all the climate strategies and policies it has in place. Easier said than done.

As elections beckon, climate may not be front and centre - but it is not going anywhere as an issue, and neither is climate politics, with all the division and difficulty it promises.

Best Reads

As EU foreign ministers debate sanctions in the wake of the “barbaric” and deadly bombardment of displaced civilians in Rafah, today marks the formal recognition of the State of Palestine by Ireland, Norway and Spain, announced politically last week. The Palestinian flag will fly outside Leinster House, and the Dáil will hear statements on statehood within.

Guy Hedgecoe assesses the scene when it comes to Israeli reprisals against Dublin, Madrid and Oslo.

Conor Lally reports on a rise in prosecutions of those arriving into the State without ID.

Cormac McQuinn runs the rule over local election manifestos.

Fintan O’Toole doubles down on his observations from last week’s column, arguing Ireland is a world-class producer of something - self-satisfaction.

Sarah Burns is on the doors in south Co Dublin.

Budget 2025 continues to lumber into view, with politicians playing footsie with promises and priorities at the National Economic Dialogue yesterday.

Meanwhile, we in The Irish Times do like to play up to type from time to time. So here’s an entire article on Fallon & Byrne’s blue cheese dip.

Playbook

The political day starts at 9.30am with the Cabinet meeting in Government Buildings. Jennifer Bray has the intel on what Ministers are going to be discussing (as does Arthur Beasley): the meeting will discuss making it a crime to demand “go away” money for not lodging appeals against property developments, and “personal progression” plans for people on the live register.

Parliamentary action gets under way with the committees from 11am, with the education committee hosting a discussion on climate action and sustainable development in post primary and tertiary sectors.

In the afternoon, the environment committee is meeting with Eamon Ryan on the National Energy and Climate Plan, while Jim O’Callaghan is in front of the justice committee on his Firearms and Offensive Weapons Bill - which aims to increase maximum sentencing for possession of a knife (this is something the Government has decided to move ahead with after O’Callaghan introduced the legislation in 2021).

Here’s the full committee rundown.

We start at 1pm in the Seanad with commencement matters, before the Employment Permits Bill and the legislation on pension auto-enrolment continue progress through the upper house in the afternoon.

Here’s the full schedule.

We’re under way in the Dáil from 2pm with Leaders’ Questions, before statements on Ireland’s recognition of the State of Palestine; Sinn Féin has a motion on the repair and maintenance of local authority housing shortly before 7pm, and in the evening, Norma Foley takes oral parliamentary questions, before topical issues shortly before 10.30pm.

The full rundown of what’s on in the Dáil is here.

When it comes to ministerial movements, Patrick O’Donovan is opening a new block at the Sligo campus of the Atlantic Technological University, before heading up to open new modular student accommodation at Ballinode Community College.

Peter Burke and Heather Humphreys are launching an employment and youth engagement charter in Dublin at midday.

It’s Tuesday, so expect the usual rundown of plinth appearances from the Opposition across the morning.

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