Saturday 23 February 2019

'Major fines unless we improve climate change efforts' - Leo

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

The country is facing the prospect of "pretty major fines" unless greenhouse gas emissions begin to rapidly reduce, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

Ireland is among a minority of EU nations in which emissions are rising, despite the increased awareness about the impact of climate change.

The Government has signed up to reduce carbon emission by 20pc by 2020 - but they have actually risen for the past two years as the economy has recovered.

Mr Varadkar now says there will be a "big focus" on climate change in the year ahead and "the things that can be done in the next 10 years to enable us to meet our commitments which we are not meeting at the moment".

"From 2020 onwards we're heading into some pretty major fines for not meeting our obligations," he said.

"I would rather spend money now on meeting our commitments than on fines from 2020 onwards."

The rise in emissions is being attributed to increased activity in the dairy and energy industries, as well as the transport sector.

Unless the trend is reversed experts put the fines facing Ireland at more than €450m.


Meanwhile, Climate Change Minister Denis Naughten said the frequency of storms was down to climate change.

"You cannot directly associate any single event with climate change, but the reality is that the severity of the storms that we are seeing this particular season are a result of the fact that a polar air mass has gone significantly further south in the Atlantic," he said.

"It's down as far as the Florida coast now. So that has increased the power and verbosity of the storms we're experiencing this particular winter.

"It's not the case of any particular storm being associated with climate change, but the reality is we are having more frequent storms, more frequent flooding, more frequent 100-year floods.

"The frequency of that can be associated with climate change but it is broader issues that we have to tackle, not just on a national level but as a global issue."

Forecaster Evelyn Cusack said the recent bad weather is linked to Arctic air across north America.

It is bringing the weather systems across the Atlantic.

Eleanor is the sixth storm to hit Ireland this winter.

Ex-Hurricane Ophelia sparked the first ever status red warning from Met Eireann when it hit our shores.

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