The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is already tasked with producing annual projections of greenhouse gas emissions for Ireland, in collaboration with relevant State and other bodies.
A key input to these projections are annual forecasts of energy use, prepared each year by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).
The 2009 Effort Sharing Decision (ESD) established binding annual greenhouse gas emissions targets for EU Member States for the period 2013 to 2020. These targets cover sectors of the economy that fall outside the scope of the EU Emissions Trading System, including transport, buildings, agriculture and waste management. For the year 2020 itself, the target set for Ireland is that emissions should be 20% below their level in 2005, which was jointly the most demanding reduction target allocated to EU Member States under this Decision.
The latest projections of greenhouse gas emissions, published by the EPA in April 2017, indicate that emissions from those sectors of the economy covered by Ireland's 2020 targets could be between 4% and 6% below 2005 levels by 2020. The projected shortfall to our targets in 2020 reflects both the constrained investment capacity over the past decade due to the economic crisis, and the extremely challenging nature of the target itself. In fact, it is now accepted that Ireland’s 2020 target was not consistent with what would be achievable on an EU wide cost-effective basis.
Concerning renewable energy, the EU Renewable Energy Directive 2009/28/EC set Ireland a legally binding target of meeting 16% of our energy demand from renewable sources by 2020. Ireland is committed to achieving this target through meeting 40% of electricity demand, 12% of heat and 10% of transport from renewable sources of energy, with the latter transport target also being legally binding. Meeting the 16% target remains challenging.
SEAI has reported that, in 2016, overall energy use increased by 3.7%, while the economy grew by 5.1%. 9.5% of Ireland's overall energy requirements in 2016 were met from renewable sources. As regards Ireland’s renewable electricity target, renewable electricity accounted for 27.2% of total consumption by end 2016. The SEAI's most recent forecast of Ireland’s compliance with its renewable energy targets (December 2017) is that Ireland will achieve between 13.2% and 15.4% of its 16% renewable energy target by 2020, indicating that Ireland should be between 82% to 96% of the way to its target.
Ireland will contribute to the Paris Agreement via the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) tabled by the EU on behalf of its Member States, which commits to a reduction of at least 40% in EU-wide emissions by 2030 compared with 1990 levels. This will be met through reductions of 43% in the Emission Trading System (ETS) and 30% in the non-ETS sector compared with 2005 levels.
Ireland's contribution to the overall 30% reduction in the non-ETS sector by 2030, as well as the contributions to be made by other Member States, will be established in the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) proposal, which will replace the current Effort Sharing Decision. In December 2017, the European Parliament and the Council reached a provisional agreement on the ESR proposal and I expect that this agreement to be shortly formally endorsed by both the European Parliament and Council. The final agreement sets a target of a 30% reduction in Ireland’s 2005 emissions by 2030, with a starting point of May 2019, based on average emissions over the period 2016 to 2018.