Richard Bruton has claimed that his government will raise electricity generated from renewable sources to 70 per cent by 2030.
His comments follow news that the all-party Climate Action Committee is set to include the target among its recommendations in a report dropping this week, which the government had already signalled it would adopt. The pledge is an increase over an existing target of 55 per cent for 2030.
Bruton, Minister for Communications and Climate Action, told reporters of the announcement in Wexford on Monday last week, adding: “There’s no point in switching to electric vehicles unless you have a clean and renewable electricity network.”
The pledge comes as Ireland is set to miss its existing 2020 carbon reduction targets. Last November, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar admitted Ireland is “nowhere near close” to its EU commitments, with an expected reduction of just 1 per cent falling far short of a 20 per cent pledged reduction on 2005 levels. Renewable sources currently make up 30 per cent of the Republic of Ireland’s energy mix.
“We’ll have to strengthen our grid, of course,” added Bruton. “It will mean that we will have to look beyond onshore wind and we will have to prepare now for a significant offshore wind capacity in our system.”
On Sunday, Leo Varadkar said that an increase in carbon taxes was also “on the table” for next year’s budget. However, he added that there was “absolutely no chance” of a four-fold increase.
Carbon is currently taxed at €20 per tonne of CO2, equivalent to approximately 5.3 cents per litre of diesel. An increase to €30 per tonne mooted for last year’s budget was scrapped due to fears over Brexit impacts.
The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) warned last year that a rate of €150-200 reflects the true cost of warming and that at least €300 may be required to avoid EU fines if the government fails to introduce other carbon reduction policies.
Last year, Ireland ranked 48th out of 56 countries in the Climate Change Performance Index – indicating that Ireland is the worst-performing country in the EU for carbon reduction efforts. While EU countries averaged 60.65 on the index, Ireland achieved a score of just 40.84.
In the same year, Ireland passed the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill, becoming the first country in the world to commit to ending investments in oil, gas, and coal from its sovereign wealth fund.
Image Credit: Sonja Tutty