IAE: Ireland needs €35bn to reach 2030 carbon emission targets
24 February 2017 | Markets
Ireland can just about feasibly reach the 2030 carbon emission reduction targets set by the EU, but to do so would require an investment of €35bn over the next 13 years, according to the Irish Academy of Engineering.
In a new report, the IAE said the actual bill could be significantly higher, as it is not possible to estimate the cost of reducing emissions in particular sectors due to a lack of data.
The study, which assesses the feasibility and costs of Ireland meeting its 2030 targets, adopts an approach that would maximise the reduction of emissions in the Emissions Trading Scheme, and minimises the need for reductions elsewhere.
This is because the greenhouse gas reductions in the non-ETS sector are more difficult and often more costly to implement, the academy says.
The report, presented to Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Environment today, recommends that a detailed analysis be carried out of the costs and socio-economic implications of reducing emissions in all sectors, including agriculture.
The body claims that this would enable decisions to be taken on the most effective strategies to achieve the targets in the national interest.
Under an agreement struck by the EU Council two years ago, by 2030 greenhouse gas emissions overall must be reduced across the bloc by 40% compared to 1990 levels.
Ireland has said it will cut its carbon emissions by 30% but with flexibility built in to allow transfer of allowances from the ETS sector to the non-ETS sector, and for the use of credits from land use change and forestry.
The academy points out that in the ETS sector, electricity generation accounts for around two thirds of Ireland's emissions.
The report finds that an 80% reduction in carbon intensity in the electricity sector from 1990 levels is possible by 2030.
It says three options are available to achieve this, including moving to very high levels of wind generation, substitution of peat and coal by biomass or increased use of gas for generation but using carbon capture and storage to reduce emissions.
However it concludes that all options require very high levels of capital investment.
In other parts of the ETS sector, the academy expects energy industries other than power generation and large manufacturing to continue their downward emissions trend up to 2030, in line with trends elsewhere in Europe.
When it comes to the non-ETS sector, the report says that in agriculture - the largest contributor to emissions - detailed assessments and research are needed to identify the most cost-effective ways of reducing greenhouse gases, weighed against the costs and economic impact of cutting emissions in other sectors.
In relation to transport, the IAE says that even with measures like upgrading infrastructure, incentivising greater efficiency in vehicles and the elimination of fuel tourism, transport emissions will rise 14% between 2015 and 2030.
While residential emissions have fallen by a quarter over the past five years, the academy thinks there is considerable scope for further decreases through measures like insulation upgrades and conversion from oil to gas heating systems.
Similar measures, plus strengthening of building standards and the adoption of renewable heat alternatives, would also help the commercial and public sector building sector meet its targets, the study finds.