“Today’s report is a damning indictment of the failure of this government to address climate change and our increasing CO2 emissions,” said Fianna Fáil’s Spokesperson on Climate Action, Timmy Dooley as a new report predicts Ireland will fail to meet its climate change targets.

Deputy Dooley was commenting after a report from the Climate Change Advisory Council outlined how Ireland will fail to meet both its 2020 and 2030 targets and will fail to decarbonise the Irish economy by 2050.

“This continued failure will have a long term and devastating impact on Ireland’s environment and economy.

“Failure to meet binding targets will impact on our economy’s growth though the levying of significant fines, up to €1 billion per annum, by the EU Commission. This is money lost to essential public services and future investment in climate mitigation measures.

“At this stage, everyone should be well aware of the impact our continued dependence on fossils fuels is having on our environment.

“Over the past eight months we have seen hundred year weather extremes – Storm Ophelia in Oct, snow drifts in March the likes of which we have not seen in generations, the wettest spring and summer in decades, and now the hottest period for another hundred years.

“It’s clear to all that climate change is real and it has consequences for us all. In a number of key areas, the Government has failed miserably:

“Electric Vehicle uptake is significantly behind target while the roll out of fast charging points to give would-be EV motorists confidence has been abysmal.

“With just 900 charging points across the country, including just 70 fast charging points, and just 5,400 EVs on the road at present, many motorists are turning back to hybrid or worse still, fossil fuel powered vehicles. With an original target of 50,000 by 2020, reduced down to 20,000, it is now likely the total EV fleet will barely reach 8000 by the end of the decade.

“The deep retrofitting of housing is nowhere near target. The SEAI have said that at least 1 million of the 2 million housing units in the State must be retrofitted by 2050. To meet that target, at least 32,000 units must be retrofitted every year. Yet, in 2017, just 75 had been completed.

“Additionally, the decarbonisation of the national transport fleet is also falling far short of what is needed. Too many of our buses and trains are still being powered by unsustainable energy sources. In fact, the Government allowed Dublin Bus purchase over 100 ‘dirty buses’ in 2017. In housing, 63% of the new houses built last year were being heated through fossil fuel systems.

“All of the above has happened on the Government’s watch. Minister Naughten keeps saying that he and the Government will do better. Targets are being stretched into the future by the Minister when he knows full well it will be someone else’s responsibility to deliver on them.

“13 months ago when he took office, Taoiseach Varadkar claimed that climate action would be a core priority for him and his government. Was it something he believed in, or did he and his advisers just think it sounded nice? The evidence to date suggests the latter,” concluded Dooley.