News & Media

Tentative progress on greenhouse emissions welcome - low hanging fruit is not the solution to climate change

20 November 2020

Statement by Duncan Smith TD
Party Whip and Spokesperson on Climate Action, Communications Networks and Transport.
Duncan Smith
  • Action needed on transport emissions, infrastructure like MetroLink must be prioritised
  • Big polluters need to be tackled

Speaking after the release of provisional emissions figures for 2019 published by the Environmental Protection Agency showing a 4.5% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions for the first time since 2011, Labour Spokesperson on Climate Action, Duncan Smith said:

“Today’s EPA figures should be cautiously welcomed as a tentative step in the right direction. However, they while any reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is welcome Ireland is still highly unlikely to meet its overall 2020 targets.

“These figures clearly show that tackling the low hanging fruit such as household energy improvements will not meaningfully tackle climate change and that real tangible progress will not be made until emissions from industry, agriculture and transport are tackled.

“Transport emissions only marginally decreased by 0.3% in the last year and we are still far too dependent on private cars as a principal mode of transport. Particularly in my own constituency of Dublin Fingal where progress on MetroLink is essential in order to achieve the necessary modal shift. I have repeatedly called on Minister Ryan to progress the project with a view to having a railway order and business plan arranged in the first quarter of 2021.

“There is a need for long term sustainable action from Government to tackle the big polluters. Labour are committed to a Just Transition and believe that the State should invest in workers and industries such as the ESB and Bord na Móna to make them climate-proof. Workers cannot be abandoned in these industries.

“Labour in Government introduced Irelands first ever climate change legislation in 2015 but unfortunately the 2017 National Mitigation Plan since quashed by the Supreme Court was lacking in specific commitments and focused almost entirely on the ‘soft options’ which will not bring about a meaningful, long term reduction in carbon emissions.  

“While these tentative results from the EPA are welcome, tinkering around the edges will not bring about a meaningful reduction in carbon emissions. Real action is needed on the big polluters for the state to transition to a low carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy up to the year 2050.