Yes. I will continue with the aforementioned graph because it tells us a great deal. First, it shows that one can reduce emissions. Reducing emissions plummeted from 2008 to 2011. We were on our way to our targets. What happened between 2008 and 2011? Half of the cause was the recession but I remember the EPA analysis published in 2012 suggested that half of the reduction was because of political commitment in government at the time and a range of different measures that were introduced. That was my experience. It is possible to do it. It is good for the economy. It is the new economy. It is where the jobs and opportunities are.
I utterly refute Mr. Carroll's argument that we are not good at climate because we have had an investment shortage for the past ten years. I have heard Ministers trot out the argument time and again. What investment shortage is behind our increasing emissions? What particular investment was the Government unable to provide in the past seven years that is the cause of our shameful climate record in the past seven years? I do not believe that argument. The reason is because of a lack of commitment in the public service and the political system to do what has to be done. There has been no sense that this is a priority. When we went to Europe the priority was to use all our political capital to try to get out of climate commitments. We pleaded to save Irish agriculture and to be allowed to sell as much cheap beef to the Chinese as we could. That is why our figures are so poor.
The graph is dramatic because it shows the possibility of more ambitious targets. I do not see how we can have any emissions in 2050 at the level of 5 million tonnes. That holds even if we accept the unambitious Government target, as Deputy Smith put it, of 800,000 tonnes per annum. The latest EPA figures show that the energy, built environment and transport sectors are growing. Instead of shrinking by 800,000 tonnes, the level is increasing by 1.8 million tonnes in these sectors. That is the scale of the problem. I am certain that the 2017 figures will show a further increase of 1.2 million tonnes. We are further away. We have to make a bigger jump or leap. I trust the EPA figures.
The series of reports presented to us, including last year's update in terms of where we are heading, even with additional measures such as shutting down Moneypoint, project an increase of 34% by 2035, including 5% in residential emissions and an increase in transport emissions. This is in spite of all the additional plans. We, therefore, have a problem and serious change is needed. It is a political and public administration problem in that we have all these plans and structures but emissions are increasing. Does the EPA agree that if we were serious about emissions, the State would stop peat extraction immediately? How many million tonnes would that save? If the officials cannot give me the figure now, perhaps they can write to me separately. If all peat extraction was stopped, how many million tonnes would that save us in the jump we have to make? How much might the State get paid under the new Paris Agreement climate commitments? How much would we benefit by showing what we have done internationally to make significant cutbacks?
There are many energy-related questions but I will go back to the process. We have a national climate dialogue, climate advisory committee, national mitigation plan, and a new European climate and energy plan, all of which are iterative processes. The best analysis was presented by the Citizens' Assembly. Its members recognised the scale and pinpointed the problem. They said it is a lack of political leadership. It is not that Irish people are bad at this; it is that there is no leadership. They came up with strong, positive suggestions such as ending peat extraction, reversing the transport budget ratio from 2:1 in favour of roads to public transport, which we need to do anyway or else our cities will be gridlocked, and adopting a proper national land use strategy under which forestry is taken seriously. None of these is mentioned in any of the national plans. We must take this issue seriously. As a committee, we will have to consider the Citizens' Assembly recommendations. What should we do with them? How will we get the public administration and political systems to realise we must do something about this now and not, as the Taoiseach has said, by 2030 or 2045?
Mr. Carroll's submission said the new national energy and climate action plan, "will revert to taxation, regulation and behavioural change actions". What will be the taxation measure? We introduced the carbon tax during our time in government and I am proud to have done it but taxation will not be the key change. Regulation and Government decisions to dramatically invest in retrofitting will be key and not just putting in €8 billion. The Government should aim to have every house on an A rating. Why stop at a B rating? Why will the Government not introduce regulations tomorrow to ban fossil fuels? Why are fossil fuel heating systems being installed in 67% of new houses when there is a brilliant heat pump alternative? Those buildings would work for heat pumps because they are properly insulated under improved building standards but we need to stop Fine Gael gutting them all the time. That scale of political commitment and pulling everyone together because it will be a new economy and it is what the country will be good at, is required. We would benefit in many ways, including a lower fuel import bill and not being shamed internationally, with Irish people feeling good about themselves by helping to prevent a fundamental crisis. The problem is a lack of political will.
How do we as a committee turn that around and instill that in our consideration of the Citizens' Assembly's work? Currently, there is lots of effort and gazillions of plans but our emissions are increasing by between 3.5% and 6% per annum in different sectors. I bet the figures for 2017 and 2018 will not be different. I am sure our emissions will increase by 5% again this year, which will push us further away from our targets, while nothing is happening, 67% of new homes are burning fossil fuels and peat is being dug up as if that is clever. Our agriculture policy is to increase emissions as if that is clever and the Government is taking a negative stance according to the European files on all the climate and energy packages. At an informal Council meeting last week, all the leading member states, including Denmark and Portugal, said they want a higher renewables target. If the Government parties were serious about climate change and our economy, they would have supported this call.