Cheap credit to buy electric vehicles, congestion charges for driving in cities and towns and more concessions on public transport fares must be introduced to reverse greenhouse gas trends, the country’s climate advisory team said.
The Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC) also wants the government to make a final decision on when they will ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars and increase the VRT for petrol and diesel vehicles in the meantime.
It also calls for solar panels to become mandatory for all new homes and says every home should have a free heat pump rating.
She also wants a renewed focus on agriculture, saying: “The Council is very concerned about the continued increase in emissions in the dairy sector.”
The recommendations are included in CCAC’s annual report released today, which warns that emissions reductions called for in the country’s first carbon budget have not been met and much deeper cuts are now needed to stay on track.
However, the chances of this are slim, since the targets set for different areas of the economy and society are unclear, concrete measures are missing and do not add up to the overall reduction required by law.
CCAC members are independent experts tasked with advising government on climate change policies and actions.
They acknowledge the challenges posed by the energy crisis but say the right response is to help the public, and particularly vulnerable households, weather it — not back down from policies aimed at taking the country off fossil fuels to free.
They say Ireland’s reliance on harmful fossil fuels is a major cause of high energy costs and supply insecurity.
“We must continue to focus on reducing our use of fossil fuels,” said CCAC Chair Marie Donnelly.
“By accelerating the delivery of vitally important indigenous renewable resources, Ireland’s long-term energy future can be secured and homes and businesses protected, while supporting climate change goals.”
The report calls for expanded and faster rollout of home retrofits, but retrofit and insulation support must first focus on low-income households and homes that rely on coal and peat for heating.
It states that households must be helped to reduce their energy consumption and that the installation of smart meters and the switch to smart electricity tariffs to reward efficient energy use must happen much faster.
It also provides a scathing assessment of the carbon budgets approved by the Dáil just last April and subsequent sectoral emissions caps agreed in July.
An agreement was only reached after serious tensions arose within the coalition, particularly over opposition from within the agricultural sector to the proposed target.
Our annual budgets call for an average reduction in emissions of 4.8 percent per year from 2021 to 2025, but the first year’s target was not met and we now need to achieve an average annual reduction of 8.4 percent to be on budget stay.
The warning echoes that of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), which said yesterday that energy-related emissions have risen by 5.4 per cent over the past year.
“We used a disproportionately large portion of our carbon budget in 2021, making the coming years even more challenging,” said Margie McCarthy, SEAI’s director of research.
“If you look at the early data from 2022, this trend continues worryingly.”
The CCAC is also critical of how the carbon budgets have been calculated, saying even if fully met, they would only result in a 42 percent cut in national emissions by 2030, not the 51 percent required by the climate law.
https://www.independent.ie/news/environment/vrt-hikes-congestion-charges-and-cheap-ev-loans-recommended-by-climate-watchdog-to-slash-emissions-41963773.html VRT increases, congestion charges and cheap EV credit recommended by the climate watchdog to cut emissions