Irish Government Receives C+ Grade for Climate and Environmental Progress
The Irish government has received a C+ grade for its “moderate progress” on climate and environmental promises, according to a new report published by an independent panel of experts commissioned by the environmental charity, Friends of the Earth. The experts assessed the government’s implementation of climate and environmental commitments set out in the Programme for Government (PfG) across nine subject areas. While the C+ grade represents a small improvement from the C grade received last year, the report highlights that some commitments in the PfG are now at risk of not being achieved with only a third of the government’s term remaining.
The report acknowledges that the Irish government has made progress in certain areas but also warns that it is “flirting with failure” in meeting goals in key areas. Dr. Cara Augustenborg, the chair of the assessment panel from University College Dublin (UCD), stated that progress is being made to improve Ireland’s environmental health in most areas but the transformational changes needed to address the climate and biodiversity emergency are not yet apparent in people’s lives. The report specifically highlights positive progress in the development of solar energy on farms, peatland rewetting, tillage expansion, and organic farming supports. It also notes that protected urea usage increased by 59% in 2022, which should have a positive impact on emission reductions. However, afforestation remains well below target, and the report emphasizes the need for more proactive interventions and less complacency from the government in achieving emission reduction targets in agriculture.
Regarding climate efforts, Friends of the Earth states that the government’s approach to environmental issues still has a long way to go. The report does highlight improvements in the energy sector, such as the first offshore wind auction and the ongoing roll-out of smart meters, which resulted in a score of seven out of ten for the energy category, an improvement from last year’s score of four out of ten. However, the panel of experts also identifies key commitments in the climate, nature and biodiversity, and drinking and waste water categories that are now at risk of not being achieved within the government’s term.
Oisín Coghlan, chief executive of Friends of the Earth, emphasizes the urgency for the government to fulfill its climate and environmental commitments, stating that incremental policy changes are insufficient and that transformational change is required. The report serves as a reminder that time is running out for the government to take the necessary actions to address the climate and biodiversity emergency.
In conclusion, while the Irish government has shown some progress in certain areas, the report highlights the need for more proactive interventions and transformational changes to achieve its climate and environmental commitments. With only a third of the government’s term remaining, urgent action is required to address the climate and biodiversity emergency.