No agreement on emission targets at last Cabinet meeting before summer

The Irish government failed to agree on what emissions targets should be attributed to key sectors of the economy during the last scheduled cabinet meeting before the summer holidays.

Tuesday night’s talks ended without agreement among the three coalition leaders, leading to expectations that the targets would not be ready for approval at a cabinet meeting scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Irish Green Party leader and Environment Minister Eamon Ryan told reporters on his way to office that he hoped they could “bridge differences” over emissions targets, although he acknowledged the talks had been “difficult”.

Following the closing of the Taoiseach Cabinet, Michael Martin, Tanaist Leo Varadkar, Mr. Ryan and Agriculture Secretary Charlie McConalog remained for further discussions.

Minister McConnalog was seen giving the thumbs up and smiling at the media as he left Dublin Castle.

Following the cabinet, Attorney General Helen McEntee told RTE Radio that “this is not an easy process”.

“Negotiations are ongoing, and so far we have not come to an agreement. Whether we will reach it today or this week, I don’t know.

She said the delay was because the government was trying to “negotiate the right thing here” and that it was not just about agriculture.

“[It’s] that we understand, what we agree to, that everything we agree to is realistic, that it is ambitious, because here everyone needs to be ambitious.

“But there is full agreement not only on all sides of the three government parties, but that we have the support and participation of everyone involved in achieving common goals,” said Ms. McEntee.

Negotiations are ongoing and we have not yet reached an agreement. Whether we will reach it today or this week, I don’t know.Attorney General Helen McEntee

Speaking to the media at Dublin Castle afterwards, Mr Ryan said no agreement had been reached and that work was still ongoing.

He declined to comment on RTE’s statement by Green Senator Pauline O’Reilly that the Green Party could leave government if a 22% or 23% emission cut was set for the agriculture sector.

“I don’t think the Green Party can put up with such a low figure,” she said.

The Climate Change Advisory Council has recommended that the agricultural sector reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 22-30% as part of Ireland’s goal of reducing total emissions by 51% by 2030.

Some TD deputies have said the emission ceiling should be set at the lower end of this range, and climate scientists and some opposition parties are calling for a reduction in the upper end.

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Taoiseach Michael Martin says the government is ‘fully committed’ to reach an Emissions Reduction Agreement (PA)

Speaking to the cabinet, Mr Martin said it was not easy to reach an agreement, but the government was “fully committed to solving this problem.”

“What the difficulties reflect in reaching an agreement, they reflect the magnitude of the challenges. I think it’s important that we get a resolution, but that we do it in a way that facilitates future implementation and real momentum on climate change.”

Mr Martin added that part of the challenge with agriculture is recognizing the greater role it will play in the energy sector in the future and recognizing the importance of food production.

Mr. Ryan, the Minister for Transport and the Environment, acknowledged that the development of the mechanism of the agreement was “challenging”.

He added: “I hope that today we can resolve differences and agree on an approach.

“This is very important for every part of Irish society.

“We need to make sure the changes we make are for the better – good for farmers, good for transportation, good for energy, good for employment, good for protecting us from the cost of living.”

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Environment Minister Eamon Ryan hopes agreement can be reached Wednesday (Brian Lawless/PA)

Ireland has made a legal commitment to halve carbon emissions by 2030 and zero net emissions by 2050.

An EPA report released last week said Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions increased by 4.7% in 2021 compared to 2020 and are now 1.1% above 2019 cap levels.

In 2021, emissions from the energy industry increased by 17.6%, which he said was due to a tripling of the use of coal and oil to generate electricity, while emissions from the agricultural sector increased by 3% last year, driven by a 5% increase. .2%. an increase in the use of fertilizers and an increase in the number of dairy cows by 2.8%.

Mr Martin said reaching emission ceilings would be “really very important”.

He added: “From transport to energy to agriculture. To be fair, I have to say that the goals that have been set are very, very difficult and will continue to be difficult.

“We are looking for ways, as in all sectors, including agriculture, we can expand these goals and ensure meaningful contributions from all sides.

“What we are trying to do here is to avoid the worst effects of climate change. We are not going to avoid climate change now, we see it in the summer heat, but what we can do for future generations and our children’s children, we can limit these consequences.”