Ireland must keep its carbon emissions in check as it is not on course to meet its emissions reduction and renewable energy targets for 2020,
That means reaching its 2030 goals is also in question, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), which says the nation which must continue to invest in low carbon and energy efficient solutions as its overall energy system “remains heavily reliant on fossil fuels”.
It suggests efforts to manage emissions could include building on the success of its “broad set” of existing energy efficiency policies sicne 2017, supported by a substantial increase in funding.
It believes while its tax on all carbon fuels – one of few countries to do so – is an “effective instrument” for reducing demand and boosting energy efficiency, the carbon tax rate has remained unchanged since 2014 and with rising living standards, “its impact on customer behaviour is weakening”.
The IEA recommends the government to introduce an automatic upward adjustment of the tax when pre-set emissions targets are not met.
However, the report says the power sector is leading the way for decarbonising the Irish energy industry.
Around a quarter of the country’s total power generation in 2017 came from wind farms – the highest share among all 30 IEA member countries.
Paul Simons, IEA Deputy Executive Director said: “Ireland has become a world leader in system integration of renewables, thanks in large part to strong policies and commitment to innovation.
“Building on this success, we advise the government to urgently implement additional measures and monitor their progress to get the country back on track to meet its long term climate targets.”
The Irish Government welcomed the review’s acknowledgement of the “significant change and progress” made in recent years.
Richard Bruton, Climate Action and Environment Minister said: “The International Energy Agency’s review confirms that while recovery has seen some improvement in take up of renewables and in energy efficiency, Ireland has not broken the link between economic growth and prosperity and greenhouse gases. It highlights the major changes Ireland needs to make in how we heat our buildings, on how we move around and how we power our grid.
“The all of government plan will provide the clear targets and the policy roadmap which we need. However, the first challenge is to secure widespread buy-in across our entire community on the vital importance of the journey which we need to go on. This can only be achieved by all sections of our community working together.”