“Significant gap” between political ambition and action, EPA warns as transport emissions bounce back

Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency has warned that there is still a “significant gap” between political ambition and climate action on reducing emissions and that transport emissions have bounced back.

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The EPA said that the end of COVID travel restrictions is projected to result in transport emissions increasing by 18-19% from 2020 to 2022.

“Emissions from transport are projected to reduce to 39% below 2018 levels by 2030 if the additional measures set out in plans and policies are implemented,” the EPA said in a statement.

But, as well as sustainable transport, the EPA listed having over “940,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2030” when motoring experts have poured cold water on the country reaching such a target, and transport and environmental experts have questioned the sustainably of the target.

Laura Burke, director general of the EPA said: “These projections show the scale of policy development and implementation needed to match the ambition of our Climate Act 2021 and Carbon Budget targets. There is a significant gap between the ambition in the Climate Act and the realisation of the necessary actions to deliver on that ambition.”

In the statement released ahead of the EPA’s Climate Change Conference in Croke Park today, she said: “The data shows that a step up in both the implementation of actions already set out in plans and policies and the identification of new measures is needed. All sectors have work to do, in particular the Agriculture sector. As the largest contributor of National emissions, more clarity is needed on how and when it will implement actions to reduce methane within the ever-shortening timeframe to 2030.”

“The projections indicate that we have returned to pre-pandemic levels of activity, particularly in the transport sector, with associated levels of emissions. This return is likely to be exacerbated by a return to higher levels of coal used in electricity generation to meet growing national energy demand and current geopolitical impacts on energy,” she said.

Stephen Treacy, senior manager at the EPA said: “The message from the authors of the recent IPCC report on climate mitigation was clear – it’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

He added: “Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible. In Ireland, implementation of measures has consistently lagged far behind planning. It is important that all planned actions are implemented as soon as possible while, in parallel, identifying actions to address the remaining gap to meet carbon budget limits.”

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