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Ireland falling well behind on climate change action admits Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar acknowledged that the Republic is lagging behind in efforts to tackle climate change. Picture by Tom Honan/PA
David Young, Press Association

IRELAND is falling way behind in efforts to tackle climate change, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has acknowledged.

With the Republic set to miss its 2020 target of reducing CO2 output by a considerable distance, Mr Varadkar said it was lagging behind on the issue.

However, he insisted the government was performing well on other environmental issues.

He noted efforts to phase out single-use plastics in public sector bodies and plans to ban plastic microbeads that are used in making certain toothpastes and cleaning products.

Ireland faces the prospect of a non-compliance bill running to hundreds of millions of euro if it does not start to dramatically cut emission rates.

The state is expected to fall well short of meeting the goal of reducing 2005 output levels by 20% by 2020.

The government is set to increase carbon tax rates in the coming years in a bid to make its 2030 emissions target.

Asked on phasing out single-use plastics, Mr Varadkar said: "That's the plan. I am not sure if we have been fully effective yet in the Department of the Taoiseach in removing them, but we are going to get there. And the plan is to do that across government, across government departments and then different agencies as well.

"We also plan to legislate in this area as well. Ireland, on the environment, does very well. In some areas we don't get as much credit for it as we should. We are a leader when it comes to recycling and we are a leader when it comes to renewable energy.

"Obviously, climate emissions and greenhouse gas is an area where we're laggard and falling way behind.

"But I think there is a whole environmental agenda that is about climate change, but is about more than climate change.

"Plastics is a big part of that. So we will have the legislation on microbeads enacted next year and there is a European law on single-use plastics as well and we are very much behind that."

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