Gormley announces carbon budget

Ireland must generate 40% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, environment minister John Gormley announced in his "carbon budget" yesterday.

The new target is a marked increase from the previous goal of 33% and exceeds both the EU requirement of 20% and the UK’s target of 15%.

Mr Gormley, the Green Party leader, said that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) statistics showed a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of more than 1% last year.

Provisional figures revealed a total of 67.9m tonnes of CO2 equivalent were emitted, 700,000 fewer than in 2006.

Most of the cuts were made in the energy sector and boosted by increased afforestation, as forests extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

However, he acknowledged that the target of reducing emissions by 3% every year would not be met by 2008.

Mr Gormley also announced Euro 5m to upgrade Dublin cycle paths.

His Labour counterpart Joanna Tuffy told the Irish Times that the carbon budget was a failure.

She said: “Why Environment Minister John Gormley insist on continuing with the charade that is his ‘carbon budget’ is beyond me.”

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