As one of the highest per capita emitters in the world, Ireland will face an uphill struggle to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent (compared to 1990 levels) by 2020, according to the Irish Institute foe European Affairs’ report.

Not meeting the legally-binding targets could mean that as well as accelerating and increasing the likelihood of climate change, Ireland could be heavily fined.

The report acknowledges that meeting the target will be “an enormous political, economic and social challenge,” and calls for various measures, including the introduction of carbon tax as soon as possible.

It suggests setting a target by 2050 and a series of intermediate targets as well as creating a climate change commission.

The report claimed: “We cannot negotiate with nature. We are, in all probability, close to a point where dangerous climate change becomes inevitable…Ultimately, we face a catastrophe if urgent action is not taken.”

Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency’s executive director Nobuo Tanaka has said that without nuclear power, Ireland would not manage to make 50 per cent cuts by 2050.

He told the Irish Times that the nuclear option need to be open but that the first priority should be energy conservation.

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