The Irish government has launched a period of consultation intended to lead to an official greenhouse gas abatement strategy, following EU agreement last week of how its aggregate commitment of an 8% cut in emissions by 2008-2012 is to be shared out (ENDS Daily 17 June). Publishing a report that will form the basis of the consultation, Irish environment minister Noel Dempsey today noted that limiting the increase in Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions to 13% was "now a firm objective". The minister gave no indication of which options presented in the report would be adopted, stressing the need for a "constructive and inclusive debate". Prepared by several consultancy and research organisations, the report concludes that, without special measures, Irish greenhouse emissions will rise by 11-24% between 1990 and 2010. Unusually for EU countries, agriculture, at 35%, is the largest single contributor to emissions of the six gases controlled by the Kyoto protocol. Options to cut emissions are more limited in the short term than in areas such as energy, but the report notes that reduced use of fertilisers, perhaps achieved through a tax on fertiliser use, could have a significant impact. Switching power production from coal to gas would very significantly reduce emissions, and at negative cost, the report concludes. In common with other countries, the report identifies transport as a key problem to be addressed: transport emissions of carbon dioxide grew 27% between 1990 and 1995 alone, more than double the overall increase across the economy of 10.5%.
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