LEADING experts in climate science and law have written to the government that sectoral emissions caps agreed last month are flawed and in breach of legislation.
The academics are Professor John Sweeney, Dr. Andrew Jackson, Professor Barry McMullin and Dr. Paul Rice of Maynooth University, UCD and DCU.
They addressed their letter to the Taoiseach, Tánaiste, and Minister Eamon Ryan.
It said: “We have serious concerns that the approach taken by the government is flawed both legally and scientifically, and poses serious risks of critically undermining the government’s overall goals [Climate] Law.”
Sectoral emission caps were agreed last month after lengthy discussions.
They set the percentage reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that each of the major sectors of society and the economy must achieve by 2030.
Agriculture proved a major obstacle, with the 25 percent reduction eventually agreed being the lowest for any sector and lower than the government’s Advisory Council on Climate Change deemed necessary.
In their letter, the four scientists say that the more immediate problem is that the climate law imposes emission caps to indicate how much greenhouse gas can be emitted in tonnes from 2021 to 2025 and from 2026 to 2930.
They say failing to specify this is like telling ministries to reduce spending by a percentage amount by 2030 without telling them in euros what they are allowed to spend in each of those two five-year periods.
The result could be that sectors do not reduce their emissions or “spending” until 2030, creating confusion and excess emissions in the meantime.
They say the agreed caps “do not determine or even meaningfully constrain the cumulative totals for each sector over each five-year period”.
Likely, this will allow excess emissions that will nullify the government’s overall statutory goal of halving national emissions by 2030.
Other shortcomings highlighted include a provision for unallocated emissions reductions that assume technologies not yet available will reduce emissions, and the decision to delay capping land use emissions by 18 months.
The letter states that this is not within the meaning of the law and “is to be regarded as unlawful” at a certain point in time.
It said: “Much of the public comment following the government announcement [of agreement on the ceilings] has focused on the need to move beyond sectoral haggling and move swiftly to implementation and implementation of emission reductions.
“Despite the clear provisions of the Climate Protection Act, the sectors and society as a whole have simply not yet been told who should have what share of the agreed national CO2 budgets by 2030, and therefore not the clarity and certainty that is required to implement an effective To enable action towards a common goal.”
Responses were requested from the departments of the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister Ryan.
https://www.independent.ie/news/environment/academics-tell-government-emissions-ceilings-are-flawed-and-unlawful-41902821.html Academics say the government’s emissions caps are flawed and unlawful