Improved infrastructure to allow people to work from home as much as possible is needed to sustain the drop in greenhouse gas emissions seen in 2020, Denis Naughten has said.
Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions fell by an estimated 6% last year compared with 2019, a newly released EPA report states.
These estimates show a significant impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, with emissions in the transport sector falling by almost 17%, with the equivalent of two million tonnes less CO2.
At the same time, residential emissions increased by 9% last year, mainly as a resulted of increased use of home heating, with more people working from home.
Galway-Roscommon TD Denis Naughten said that this data from the EPA and SEAI shows the potential to reduce emissions by speeding up the delivery of fibre broadband and flexible working arrangements to support remote working.
Deputy Naughten said that it would help “lock in” the temporary reduction in emissions brought on by COVID-19 by accelerating the rollout of the national broadband plan, and developing a strategy to support flexible working for employees and small businesses.
“It is frustrating to see those so opposed to the National Broadband Plan in the past now have such a Pauline Conversion in Government, yet they have not secured one additional cent in the spending profile for the project over and above what I had locked in as Minister in 2018.”
The EPA said in its report that emissions are expected to return to previous levels during the economic recovery from COVID-19, unless additional steps are taken.
Commenting on the figures Laura Burke, Director General, EPA said that Ireland is at a “pivotal point” where the actions taken during the economic recover will shape the country for the coming decade.
“While these early estimates show a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions for 2020 as a result of Covid restrictions, this level of emission reductions, at a minimum, will be required annually.”
“Ireland needs a ‘green recovery’ to rebuild our economy, generate new jobs and respond to climate change.”
“As we emerge from the global pandemic, a ‘green’ stimulus and implementation of ambitious policies and measures can deliver Ireland’s current and future commitments to a climate-neutral economy and climate-resilient society by 2050.”
“The emissions reductions in 2020 must be built on to achieve continual, substantial, year-on-year reductions, making the 2020’s the decade of climate action.”