Speaking after news of the CO2 emissions deal between Government parties broke yesterday (28th July 2022), Chambers Ireland Head of Policy, Shane Conneely said: “This is only the first of many difficult conversations on climate that we face, and the Government blinked.
“We welcome some parts of the agreement, but not how we got here. There has been too much uncertainty for the wider economy and society, and compromise has now been built into the process.
“In practical terms, farming accounts for 1% of our national income, even in regional areas its job creation effect is marginal. Farming is however an outsize part of our CO2 emissions, with farming making up more than a third of our national output.
“The reason why farming is such an important part of this conversation is that Ireland is one of the highest CO2 emitting countries, per capita, in the world; because of farming. Even small reductions in targets for farmers mean an enormous amount of effort for the rest of the people on the island.
“The increase in targets for wind renewables is welcome, so to is the massive increase in footprint for the solar industry, and we are extremely happy with the commitment to Green Hydrogen.
“However, our national electrical transmission grid will need to be transformed if it is to have the capacity to bring electricity from where it is generated to where it is needed. In many regional parts of the country electricity goes unused because it can’t be transmitted to where it is needed.
“It is also hard to see how these targets will be met without a massive increase in the ambition for our offshore turbine fleet.
“Industry has an appetite for delivering on the Green Transition. But at the moment, demand for renewables; for biomethane, for Green Hydrogen and renewable electricity is constrained by regulation and infrastructure. If Government want to make it easier for farmers, then officials need to deliver on the infrastructure is required for the rest of our economy to decarbonise.
“It’s also unclear how the NDP and Housing for All will interact with the Industry/Enterprise targets – there’s an enormous volume of carbon that is embodied in the construction of buildings.
“Many sectors will have serious challenges to meet these emission reduction targets – it’s hard to see how transport output can be halved and the residential sector reductions will be hardest of all to deliver.
“As the hard to abate sections of our society fail to deliver on their targets, the focus will return to the farmers again. Ireland won’t be able to decarbonise unless they decarbonise.
“Today is only the first of what will be a long series of increasingly difficult conversations about emissions. We have delayed too long, and that is making our transition more disruptive than it needed to be. Further hesitation is only going to see future decision making becoming far more difficult.”