Dip in emissions welcome but much more radical action required

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Reacting to the EPA emissions figures for 2022, released this morning, Friends of the Earth chief executive, Oisín Coghlan said:

“It is a relief to see that Ireland’s climate changing pollution fell in 2022 but it was only a dip and not yet the dramatic reductions we need to see.

“It is good to see that policy change can actually cut pollution, with the impact of the much-discussed smoky fuels ban evident in the EPA figures.

“But this is just one year and not yet a trend. The Government needs to made sure the gains made here are not reversed. The reductions in agriculture and home heating pollution were largely driven by rising fertilizer and fossil fuel prices as a result of war in Ukraine. 

“The Government needs to take steps to actively ensure those reductions are locked in, rather than rebounding as prices ease just as transport emissions did after Covid restrictions eased. Transport emissions rose 6% in 2022 which is horrifying.

“Overall, we have used half our carbon budget for the five years from 2021 to 2025 in the first two years. We need much bolder and braver policy change and much faster and more disciplined implementation across all government departments and state agencies if we are going to stay within our legally binding limits on pollution to 2025 and 2030.

“Today is also the last day for submissions to the public consultation on what new policies the Government should adopt as they turn their minds to the 2024 Climate Action Plan that will be decided before the end of the year.

Friends of the Earth is calling on the Government to take more radical steps to reduce pollution, including:

  • Commit to retrofitting all social housing by 2030 rather than just a quarter as the current plan is. This tackles energy poverty, cuts pollution and would be a positive step towards “warm homes for all”
  • Set a date for when Ireland will stop putting new gas and oil boilers into factories, offices and homes. Friends of the Earth is proposing 2027. And stop Gas Networks Ireland’s greenwashing attempts to make itself indispensable. It’s a state agency and it needs to be told to make plans to phase out the gas grid over time not keep trying to lock people into it.
  • End Ireland’s “car is king” culture once and for all. Start taxing cars by emissions and weight to stop SUVs taking over our city streets, accelerate the delivery of public transport, guarantee every child who wants one a place on a school bus, and insist on safe routes to school for cycling and walking.
  • Introduce a full moratorium on connecting more data centres to the grid before these ‘power suckers’ blow our carbon budgets all on their own.

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Climate Change