Ireland unlikely to meet EU waste targets

Ireland looks set to miss its legally-binding EU waste targets and faces 'significant challenges' in meeting its carbon-cutting targets.

This is the gloomy conclusion of research commissioned by the country’s Environmental Protection Agency and published this week.

The Irish Sustainable Development (Isus) model uses economic forecasts to predict waste generation and pollution emissions and is the result of a three-year study undertaken by the Dublin-based Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).

The study suggests Ireland will struggle with its 2020 greenhouse gas emissions targets and is unlikely to meet its EU obligations on diverting biodegradable waste from landfill – which will probably mean fines.

It also maps out who is most likely to pay the highest carbon tax, with those in the commuter belt likely to pay the biggest bill.

On the plus side, it shows that between 1990 and 2006 many pollutants that impact on air quality have fallen, the CO2 and dioxins are on the rise.

Speaking about the findings Dr Mary Kelly, director general of the EPA said: “This model, developed by the ESRI, is very welcome.

“We are all aware of the use of GDP and other statistics to measure economic change.

“These, however, leave many things unmeasured, including the environment. The ISus model provides a link between economic forecasting and potential environmental impacts.

“This enables us to use the expertise of the ESRI, in relation to economic data, and link this with the environmental data produced by the EPA. The results will aid policy and decision makers to diagnose environmental problems, identify pressure points, target policy interventions and assess their success.

“For example, projections on the generation of biodegradable waste – how much and where – could be a very useful tool for planning the location and required capacity for waste management infrastructure in the future.”

Sam Bond

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