In Q4 2009, the Dept Environment published a Framework for the Climate Change Bill 2010 promising a Heads of Bill by Q1 2010. The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security decided not to wait for that and published a draft bill. This was “published” to members of the press last week, and has been made available to all this week.
There are two significant differences between the Government’s sketch and the Oireachtas’ draft. First, the Oireachtas sets a target for energy efficiency whereas the Government does not. Second, the Oireachtas puts an Taoiseach in charge whereas the Government puts the Minister of the Environment in charge.
Energy efficiency is a means to an end. Setting an energy efficiency target is therefore inappropriate. Greenhouse gas emissions are primarily from agriculture, energy and transport — that is, beyond the control of the Minister of the Environment. It is therefore appropriate to put an Taoiseach in charge.
The Oireachtas’ draft is considerably more detailed and specific than the Government’s sketch (as you would expect). It is long on creating bureaucracy but short on details how emissions would be cut.
Oireachtas and Government agree that the target for greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 is 20% of the 1990 level.
If we run Hermes/IDEM/ISus out to 2025 and extrapolate trends from there, assuming a 2% annual growth of the economy between 2025 and 2050, we find emissions of 49 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2050 — 87% of 1990 levels. 60% is from fossil fuel combustion, and 36% from agriculture.
If we double the rate of decarbonisation of the economy (3.3% for energy, 2.8% for construction, 0.2% for methane, 0.9% for nitrous oxide between 1990 and 2025 in the baseline), 2050 emissions fall to 44% of their 1990 levels.
If we triple the rate, emissions go to 29%. If we quadruple the rate, emissions go to 22%.
Quadrupling the rate of technological progress (broadly defined) is very hard — particularly since Ireland’s baseline rate is rather high compared to other countries.
If we do away with agriculture, 2050 emissions would be 56% of 1990 levels. Doubling the rate of progress in energy and construction would reduce emissions to 17%.
Doubling the rate of technological progress is hard. Methane- and nitrous-free agriculture is not easy either.
It strikes me that 80% emission reduction by 2050 is on the ambitious side.
I would think that it is better to implement realistic policies than to set unrealistic targets.
He_who_shall_not_be_named pointed out that the Oireachtas draft also has a target for 2020: -30%. We have repeatedly pointed out that the -20% target for that date cannot possibly be met without draconian measures such as a prolonged depression or a ban on cows. -30% is, of course, even more difficult.