Annual Report Card: ‘a cause for hope but not celebration’

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“A cause for hope, but not a cause for celebration” - independent experts give Government a C+ for delivery of their climate and environmental commitments

Slight improvement from last year’s C grade, with significant progress made on Energy commitments, but overall performance on environmental issues is still a long way off where it needs to be.

For the first time, the experts identify key commitments in the “Climate”, “Nature & Biodiversity” and “Drinking & Waste Water” categories that are now in danger of not being achieved during the Government’s term.

**Download the designed report card here**

**Individual graphics and tables from the designed report are available here**

** View a Google doc version of the report card with some extra details here**

**Photos of independent experts available here**

**Compendium of information which informed the Report Card available here**

As the Government returns tomorrow (Tuesday, 5th Sept) for its first meeting of the new political term it has received a C+ grade for “moderate progress” on its own climate and environmental promises [1, 2]. The grading was carried out by independent experts who annually assess the Government’s implementation of its own climate and environmental commitments in the Programme for Government [3,4]. This year’s grade is a small improvement on the C grade the Coalition received last year - reflecting some additional effort and investment on environmental commitments and a significant improvement in  the “Energy” category. 

But with only a third of the Government’s term remaining, the experts have for the first time identified some key commitments in the Programme for Government that are now in danger of not being achieved by this Government. These “critically endangered” commitments include some crucial climate related commitments; there is now a real danger that, on the current trajectory, Ireland will not meet its commitments on the first carbon budget and the sectoral emissions ceilings. Other “critically endangered” commitments include Programme for Government commitments on Agriculture and Forestry, where the Government is still largely failing to achieve its own promises, despite these promises being very limited in ambition to start with. Commitments on Drinking and Waste Water are also in danger of not being achieved by this Government; Ireland’s water quality worsened in 2022 compared to 2021, with dangerous nitrate and phosphate concentrations in many of Ireland’s river sites, estuarine, and coastal water bodies. 

The overall assessment marked the Government out of 10 in nine subject areas [4]. The Government’s highest scores came in the categories of  “Waste and Circular Economy” (7.5 - down from 8.5 last year), “Energy” (7 - a significant improvement from 4 last year) “Buildings” (7 - up from 6 last year) and “Air Quality” (7 - same as last year). The lowest scoring categories were “Agriculture and Forestry (4 - same as last year) where the Government is now “flirting with failure” and “Water and Marine (5 - marginally up from 4.5 last year).

marks out of ten in each main category

Commenting, the Chair of the assessment panel, Dr Cara Augustenborg from UCD said:

“We’re accustomed to hearing nothing but bad news when it comes to Ireland’s environmental record, but taking a deep dive inside the Government’s work since 2020 provides clear evidence that progress is being made to improve Ireland’s environmental health in most areas. 

“It’s frustrating that this work is not yet apparent in people’s lives and we’re not seeing the transformational changes needed to address the climate and biodiversity emergency. However, if the Government doubles down on their efforts through intense and sustained effort, we could be living in a more sustainable Ireland within the decade. The question is whether or not the Government’s will is strong enough to accomplish this in the short time remaining.” 

Dr. Paul Deane from University College Cork said:

“This year’s review gives us cause for hope but not a reason for celebration. Ireland’s greenhouse gas pollution has reduced marginally this year, but we are still massively addicted to fossil fuels. However, we are seeing a positive foundation for a cleaner future being put in place. 

“The task for the Government  this year is not just climate action but climate agility. Many of the correct actions are being taken but just not at a speed that is quick enough or a scale that is large enough.” 

Dr. Diarmuid Torney from Dublin City University added:  

“Three years on from the formation of the Government, we see a mixed picture. Although a good foundation is being laid and there is solid progress in some areas, overall delivery is slower than I would have liked to see approximately two thirds of the way through the Government’s term in office. 

“Time is running short to deliver on the range of climate and environmental commitments set out in the Programme for Government and there needs to be a real prioritisation of environment and climate over the remainder of the Government’s term.”

Reacting to the results, Oisín Coghlan, Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth who commissioned the assessment, said:

“What this independent assessment shows is that time is running out fast for this Government to fulfil its climate and environmental commitments. They are delivering incremental policy changes when meeting their own commitments now requires transformational change.

“The Coalition leaders need to be upfront with people that a certain amount of inconvenience and disruption is unavoidable now, in order to prevent climate chaos and destruction down the line. My fear is party leaders will become more timid as elections approach, when what we need now is honesty and courage.”



  1. Download the designed report card here. You can also view a Google doc with a more detailed version of the report and text that can be copied easily here

  2. The Compendium of information which informed the Report Card available here.

  3. The assessment was carried out by a panel of independent academic experts, Dr Cara Augustenborg from UCD, Dr Paul Deane from UCC and Dr Diarmuid Torney from DCU. It was commissioned by Friends of the Earth who had no role in deciding the results. Photos of the independent experts are available here

  4. The assessment’s methodology was as follows: In July 2023, Friends of the Earth commissioned three academic experts to independently assess the Irish Government’s performance on environment and climate relative to commitments in the 2020 Programme for Government (PfG). The PfG contains nearly 300 environmental or climate related commitments. Friends of the Earth divided these commitments into nine categories: Climate; Nature and Biodiversity; Waste and the Circular Economy; Water and Marine; Air Quality; Transport; Buildings; Energy; and Agriculture and Forestry. More than 85 stakeholders across a wide range of civil society organizations, sectoral interest groups, political parties, academic institutions, media organizations and Government bodies were contacted to gather data and insights on each of the Government’s environmental commitments. Forty three stakeholder interviews were conducted along with extensive desk-based independent research, all of which is reported in a compendium developed by Patricia Lentz, Emma Flannery, Isabelle Hargrave and Clara Weldon of University College Dublin. Three academic experts then used the information in this compendium along with their own knowledge of Government policy to score each of the nine categories. Their assessment did not evaluate whether commitments contained in the PfG were adequate, but rather how well this Government is keeping its word on their own climate and environmental promises. The assessment took into account that the current Government has served for three years while the PfG was developed based on a five year timescale. Thus, performance was evaluated based on the level of policy development and implementation which could reasonably be expected within three years. This assessment has been conducted annually since 2021 to measure progress over the duration of the PfG.