Official projections of GHG emissions to 2040 are based on two scenarios:
(1) with current policies, regulations and incentives (i.e. With Existing Measures, WEM) and
(2) with additional policies, regulations and incentives (i.e. With Additional Measures, WAM).
The WAM scenario includes the impact of new climate mitigation policies and measures that are in Ireland’s Climate Action Plan which was published in 2019. This Plan sets out a major programme of policies and measures aimed to help Ireland achieve its decarbonisation goals.
In the short term, Ireland is set to miss its target for compliance with the EU’s Effort Sharing Decision 2020 targets. Ireland’s non-Emissions Trading Scheme emissions are projected to be 7% below 2005 levels in 2020 under both the WEM and WAM scenarios. This compares to the target of 20% below 2005 levels by 2020. Ireland has exceeded its annual limits for the non-Emissions Trading Scheme sector emissions in 2016- 2019. Ireland is estimated to have cumulatively exceeded its compliance obligations by 12.2 Mt CO2 eq over the 2013- 2020 period and will need to use credits and/or purchase surplus annual emission allocations from other member states to achieve compliance.
These Projections indicate that Ireland can meet its non-ETS EU targets over the period 2021 to 2030 assuming full implementation of the 2019 Climate Action Plan and the use of the flexibilities available. Future, more ambitious targets as presented in the European Climate Law and Ireland’s Climate Bill will require many (as yet unidentified) additional measures.
Electricity generation, agriculture and transport, which continue to be key sectors that dominate Ireland’s emissions profile, are all projected to decline by 2030, based on full implementation of the measures in the Climate Action Plan. For electricity generation, this will mean scaling up of the contribution of renewable to 70% by 2030. For agriculture this will mean implementing measures such as those set out in Teagasc’s Marginal Abatement Cost Curve to achieve a 16.5 Mt CO2eq emission reduction over the period 2021-2030. For transport, this will mean almost one million electric vehicles on Irish roads by 2030 and a considerable increase in the use of biofuels. A significant increase in the installation of heat pumps for domestic and commercial heating and much improved energy efficiency of Ireland’s building stock is also necessary in the residential, commercial/public services and manufacturing sectors.
Ireland faces a significant challenge to meet its National Policy Position, which aims to achieve a climate neutral economy no later than 2050 and a total reduction of 51% emissions over the period to 2030. Once the policies and measures have been identified to address these targets, they will be included in future emissions projections.
Observed climate change impacts are most evident in the global temperature record, sea-level rise, loss of glaciers and ice-sheets and changes in the nature and intensity of precipitation events. These have impacted on human health, water resources and management systems, ecosystems, food production and rates and levels of coastal flooding. Global projections indicate that oceans will continue to warm, sea-level rise will continue during this century and sea-ice and glacier volumes will further decrease.
The character and severity of the impacts of climate extremes depend not only on the extremes themselves but also on exposure and vulnerability to these extremes. The effects of climate change are projected to further impact on food production systems, water resources, coastal infrastructure, critical services and urban centers, resulting in increased displacement of people, societal stress and loss of land and other assets. Ireland’s climate is changing in line with regional and global trends. Adaptation actions will be required to reduce adverse impacts and increase resilience to these and other impacts of climate change.
Ireland’s climate is changing. Mitigation and adaptation action that is planned, coordinated and prioritised is required to build the resilience of society and the economy in the face of current and projected climate change impacts.
Ireland is vulnerable to weather extremes and sea-level rise. Its coastal assets, transport and energy infrastructure are also vulnerable. Their vulnerability has been exposed by recent weather extremes, which are expected to become more frequent over the coming decades.
Ireland also needs to play an effective part in contributing to EU and global efforts to ensure that the global temperature increase relative to pre-industrial temperatures stays well below 2ºC. Ireland is well positioned to provide leadership in key areas including the monitoring, reporting and verification of GHG emissions and removals from agriculture and land use. Coherent cross-government engagement in, and support for, strategic and effective local and global actions to address climate change is in Ireland’s interest.
The next decade needs to be one of major developments and advances in relation to Ireland’s response to climate change. We need to start implementing ambitious policies now. Full and early implementation of ambitious policies and measures can deliver Ireland’s current and future commitments to a climate-neutral economy and climate-resilient society by 2050.