Responding to EPA figures showing Ireland breaking its climate change targets in 2018, Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan TD said:
"The latest statistics from the Environmental Protection Agency make it patently clear that the Governments climate strategy is not working and has to radically change. Fine Gael talks the talk but are unable to walk the walk when it comes to switching to a low carbon future. Their failure will cost us all dearly and is all the more galling because the necessary changes will be good for our society and economy.'
"In every sector they are following a conservative, business as usual model, which is the underlying reason why our emissions continue to rise. The Minister for Transport seems to have no interest whatsoever in the challenge ahead, the Department for Climate Action lacks the resources and creativity to help make change happen and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation is adrift when it comes to delivering on the last two words in their own name plate.'
"These results reflect a Government which is tired and running out of ideas. If they were looking to the future they would be taking very different decisions and introduce a very different National Development Plan which would set Ireland on a path which is truly green."
On agriculture, Green Party Agriculture Spokesperson Pippa Hackett, said:
"We need to take a long hard look at our Agri-Food sector. Many farming enterprises are unprofitable, which puts significant strain on families, at both economic and personal levels. It is totally irresponsible for our Government to continue with the same model of production, year in year out, and expect a different result for our farmers, who are crying out for alternatives on their farms.
"It is simply impossible to de-couple rising emissions from agricultural expansion, especially when this expansion is concentrated in high carbon sectors like dairy and beef production. The model of commodity production cannot work for this small island of ours. It has pitched our small family farmers against world giants in a global marketplace, and that is simply not sustainable – environmentally, socially or economically. All the technological and genetic efficiencies and “roadmaps” in the world won’t matter a jot, when the EU are dishing out the substantial financial fines for our non-compliance.
"Decarbonising our agri-food sector will not be easy, but it is not impossible. With CAP Reform on the horizon, and a new food strategy being produced for 2030, the Government has a huge opportunity to listen to different voices, to listen to those who want to put our farmers and our environment at the centre of these policies, and not Big Agri and economic growth.
"We must not forget that we are also in a Biodiversity emergency, and adopting more nature friendly practices can only help us reach our emissions targets in years to come."
On the potential impact of fines and the way forward, Green Party MEP Ciarán Cuffe said:
"The National Development Plan (Project Ireland 2040) commits a staggering €5.7 billion being spent on national road schemes. A spend of this magnitude on further expanding our motorways at the expense of improving and expanding public transport options completely counter intuitive when we consider the significant cost of the penalties we are already incurring as a direct result of our failure to reduce our emissions in line with international agreements.
"Yesterday, I spoke in the European Parliament calling on the European Commission to work with urgency to deliver a European wide Green New Deal that will change people's lives for the better with warmer homes, shorter commutes and cleaner air. I would urge our own government to act with the same urgency to bring Ireland back on track, improve citizen's lives and avoid further waste of taxpayers money on these huge and avoidable fines."