The rise in Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions is ‘disappointing but understandable’, Green Party Minister Ossian Smyth has told Newstalk Breakfast.
The latest report from the Environmental Protection agency (EPA) has warned that Ireland’s emissions increased by 4.7% last year.
It puts emissions at 1.1% above pre-pandemic rates.
The figures suggest Ireland is almost certain to breach its carbon budget limits for 2025 and will struggle to get close to its legally binding commitment to cut emissions by 51% by 2030.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, The Junior Minister for Public Procurement Ossian Smyth said the road to reduction was always ging to be bumpy.
“It is very disappointing to see it, but you know, it’s understandable,” he said.
“The target is a five-year target. It is 295 megatons we will emit by 2025. Then we have a ten-year target which is to cut our emissions by 50%.
“We don’t have single one-year targets. If you divide it up over 10 years, it’s 7% per year but we know that it’s never going to be smooth.
“It’s going to be bumpy because one year, you have a war, one year you have a pandemic and the next year you have a rebound effect when the pandemic is over and emissions go up again.
“So, we had a dramatic fall in 2020 and a rise now in 2021.”
He admitted the 2021 rise will mean we need even greater reductions in the coming years and said the question now is, how do we get there.
“Now we have to find who is going to take the cuts among different groups in society,” he said.
“We have to make that carve-up.”
He noted that one of the main reasons emissions increased last year was due to the global pressures on gas supply due to the War in Ukraine.
Yesterday, the European Union urged all member states to reduce gas consumption by 15% amid concerns Russia will turn off supply to Europe.
Minister Smyth said Ireland does not buy gas from Russia – but will see price increases as more countries move away from Russian supply.
“Anything we can do to reduce our gas usage, we will be looking at and that will be any form of efficiencies we can use,” he said.
Yesterday reports emerged that some Green Party members are worried that coalition partners Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are ‘stealing their clothes’ when it comes to climate policy.
'Steal my clothes'
Minister Smyth said he is “delighted for people to steal my clothes.”
“My great fantasy is that all the policies I’m trying push suddenly appear in the manifestos of my opposing parties,” he said.
“I think it would be great if Fine Gael, Sinn Féin or the Soc Dems wanted to do what we want to do. That would be great. That would be wonderful.
“The problem is that, although they agree with us, it is way down the priority list so it never actually happens.”
He said green policies are now becoming mainstream.
“I’m so happy that I’m not the person in the corner of the room, being ignored, talking about the environment,” he said.
“Now it’s the major topic of discussion and in fact, if you’re against all this, you’re the one who is unusual and weird.
“So, I’m very happy for people to steal my clothes. Go right ahead and I will help you to do it.”
You can listen back here: