Minister Gormley has announced new targets for greenhouse gas emission reduction: 2020 emissions are to be 10% below 1990 levels (29% below 2005 levels) , 2030 emissions 40% below 1990, and 2050 emissions 80% below 1990.
EU legislation has that Ireland should cut 2020 emissions by some 20% below 2005. The EU has committed itself to 30% if there is a meaningful global agreement on emission reduction (which is as unlikely as ever). The Environment Council has repeatedly tried to remove the conditionality of the 30%, but has been rebuffed by the European Council. The government now argues that Ireland should unilaterally adopt the 30% (well, 29%) target.
It will be hard enough to meet the EU target, as illustrated here (after Devitt et al., 2010). According to the low growth scenario, Ireland will fall short some 5.5 mln tonnes of CO2 equivalent of the EU target — and 13.5 mln tonnes of the new government target. Today’s permit price is 14 euro/tCO2. Under the EU target, Ireland would need to spend 80 million euro per year on importing permits (the model imposes a carbon tax equal to the permit price, so buying permits is cheaper than increasing domestic emission reduction). Under the new government target, this would by 190 mln euro.
The new government target is less stringent than that proposed by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security.