I thank the Chairman for the invitation to contribute to this committee. I apologise for making a late submission of some written evidence early this morning because I had varying scheduling issues so was unaware that I would speak at this particular hearing. Based on that I wish to emphasise that I am not an expert on Ireland. Nevertheless, I have worked on mitigation for 30 years and spent a decade working in the petrochemical industry as a design engineer.
My submission is based on a very recent paper where my colleagues and I downscaled the Paris Agreement to the developed and developing countries, and then down to the UK and Sweden. So this provided a framework for how to go from Paris down to national level. The analysis that we used in that paper and, indeed, I used in my submission today, took it at face value that Ireland is going to deliver on its temperature and equity commitments, as enshrined in the Paris Agreement. I based my analysis on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, science. I also, very importantly, used the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, equity framing around common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, CBDR-RC, which is a key issue that most countries are simply ignoring.
As an academic, I am not interested in political and economic sensibilities. However, I recognise that politics and economics are important but the short-term sensibilities that we always skate around are one of the main obstacles to us delivering significant change. If one sets that as a framework I argue, which I will try to demonstrate, that that imposes a mitigation agenda that is far more challenging than any one of us have yet been prepared to countenance.
I shall set the scene and remind ourselves that even the Paris Agreement's framing of climate change, holding to an increase of 1.5°C to 2°C, is not just. Many people are already dying from climate change and with the 1.5°C to 2°C target, many more people will die. They will be poor. Typically, they will be people of colour, initially the burden will fall disproportionately on women and children, they will live in climate-vulnerable parts of the world and they will be low emitters. Let me be clear. We have, knowingly, in the wealthy parts of the world imposed that upon them by our choice to fail, thus far, to address climate change. I say this regularly to all countries but today my focus is on Ireland.
Since 1990, Ireland's emissions of CO2 have increased by between 18% and 20%. It is probably 20% if one included aviation and shipping. Therefore, since the first IPCC report, Ireland has presided over a rise of 20% in its carbon dioxide emissions. Today, Ireland's emissions per capita are about 50% higher than that of an average Chinese person, twice the global mean and over eight times that of an average African person. Given such framing for Ireland and almost all wealthy countries, I believe that holding to 2°C is probably the best that we can achieve but, to be clear, that is not a safe threshold.
The analysis that underpins my submission and the paper itself is based on a carbon budget framework. Long-term targets are deeply misleading. It does not matter what we do in 2050, 2045 or even 2030. What matters is the total amount of carbon dioxide that we emit into the atmosphere, which brings the policy agenda down to what we do this year, next year, in the next three to six years and out, perhaps, to 2030, because that is the most important time. I make no allowance for future generations to deploy speculative technologies to suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Similarly, I make no allowance for additional earth system feedbacks coming from the science at present that suggest carbon budgets may be smaller. I base this on a very conservative reading of the analysis done by the IPCC. It is on that basis we downscaled the Paris Agreement and the IPCC carbon budgets that align with the 1.5°C to 2°C targets down to the developed and the "developed country parties", as they are called in the Paris Agreement. We also took seriously the whole equity framing of the common but differentiated responsibilities. We then further downscaled developed countries to the EU, and I have done that briefly for today in terms of what that means for Ireland. We use a range of apportionment regimes, which members can ask me about.
By taking that approach, I can outline the headline recommendations for the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2020. First, the national climate objective urgently needs to be revised to reflect Ireland's temperature and equity commitments that Ireland is obliged to deliver as a signatory of the Paris Agreement. Ireland also needs to make it absolutely transparent and have a clear cogent downscaling of the global carbon budget that is deemed appropriate for the Paris Agreement, and we have outlined in our paper what we think that should be. It is down to Ireland to explain the implications of that for the poorer parts of the world. Typically, one sees that when this work was done by the UK, Scotland and other countries, it was deeply colonial. When one plays it backwards, one will see the implications for poor parts of the world and the small amount of budget that they have left because the wealthy countries, as always, want more than they are obliged to.
I argue that there should be no offsetting or accountancy ruses to avoid wealthy countries meeting their obligations. There should be no reliance on negative emission technologies nor on carbon capture and storage. Primarily, that is because carbon capture and storage on energy still have very high life cycle emissions that typically range from 100 g to 300 g per kilowatt hour.
I do think it is important that Ireland and other wealthy countries fund a major research programme on negative emission technologies, carbon dioxide reduction techniques and so forth. However, to assume that they will work in the future is a moral hazard par excellence. On top of cuts in energy emissions, Ireland needs to deliver absolute cuts in its agricultural methane and nitrous oxide emissions.
In terms of headline conclusions, and to put some numbers on this, my provisional analysis for Ireland is that if Ireland is to make sure that its policies are Paris-compliant, then its total carbon budget from 2020 out to the end of the century and beyond, should not exceed something like 300 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is the upper end of the threshold.
That is about seven years, maybe slightly less, of current carbon dioxide emissions depending on whether one does or does not include international aviation and shipping, which I would argue one should include. Seven years of current emissions should exceed the budget for a reasonable chance of 2°C. It needs to deliver annual reduction rates of more than 12% every single year, year on year, and it should have started at the beginning of this year. That is across the full energy sector. Given that it takes a while to deliver that, and it certainly has not so far, if that is played out and with some political inertia, it is about an 80% cut in CO2 emissions by 2030, compared with current emissions, or at least compared with the 2018 data I have. It needs to reach full decarbonisation or its entire energy system by 2035 to 2040 at the very outside. That will be about ten to 15 years later for the poorer parts of the world. This means zero carbon across the full energy system of aeroplanes, trains, cars, ships, industry, heating, everything. It also needs to cut its agriculture methane and nitrous oxide emissions by at least 3% every single year, starting now. That is an absolute cut and not just an intention to cut. It needs a programme of forestry management and reforestation. If it does not succeed on that then the agriculture emissions reductions would need to be higher still. This is hugely challenging and we should have started 30 years ago. Our choice to fail has led us to where we are in 2020, and we are still deluding ourselves about the scale of the challenge we really face because we are more interested in political sensibilities than in delivering real change, thus far. That is my experience outside of Ireland.
Our work also demonstrated that if there is a net zero framing that is not that similar to the Committee on Climate Change, and if the rest of the world failed at that sort of level then this is somewhere around 2.5°C to 3°C of warming, not 1.5°C to 2°C. One must bear in mind that when we choose to fail on climate change then we have to face the implications of very severe impacts and adaptions if we cannot succeed on that in the future, and particularly for future generations. That is a very depressing overview, I am sure, for many of the committee but unfortunately this is where we are in 2020. I thank the members for listening.