Press Release | 13 December 2018

Germanwatch comments on reaction of Irelands Prime Minister on CCPI

Jan Burck: "The criticism of Prime Minister Leo Varadkar falls short as he only refers to one out of the 14 CCPI indicators."

On Tuesday the Irish Prime Minister reacted on Irelands 48th rank ("very low") in the new Climate Change Performance Index as follows::

Only a few days ago the Environmental Protection Agency released its report on greenhouse gas emissions from Ireland in 2017, last year. We do not have the numbers for 2018 yet. The EPA report reveals that our greenhouse gas emissions last year decreased. It happened for a number of reasons, including increased generation of renewable energy and also the fact that it was a relatively warm year meaning people used less energy to heat their homes. Nonetheless our emissions reduced in 2017. We do not yet know what the story is for 2018. The report card the Deputy mentioned was prepared by a German NGO which is an advocacy and campaign organisation.

We need to make a distinction between report cards, claims and assertions made by campaign organisations as opposed to those made by official bodies such as the CSO, the UN or the EPA ----between official statistics and those that are calculated by an NGO or an advocacy group that has a particular agenda.

Comment by Germanwatch:

Jan Burck, Germanwatch, one of the authors of Climate Change Performance Index 2019: „Our Climate Change Performance Index is based on standardized scientific criteria. The data for 12 of our 14 indicators is drawn from official statistics. Germanwatch and the NewClimate Institute in cooperation with national experts undertake the assessment. Both organisations are fully independent and do not work for profit. All ratings and indicators are described in a detailed and transparent manner. The criticism of Prime Minister Leo Varadkar falls short as he only refers to one out of the 14 CCPI indicators. Emissions in Ireland are still increasing if one looks at a five-years trend, no matter if 2016 or 2017 is taken into account as the latest data reference.”

The underlying method of the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) is standardized for all countries assessed in the index. In addition, it is important to note that the index is a comparative measure evaluating a country's performance in relation to the other countries included in the assessment. The method used in the preparation of the index follows OECD guidelines for the development of composite performance indicators.

80% of the assessment of countries' performance is based on quantitative data on GHG emissions, renewable energy and energy use. The data are taken from the national GHG inventories (submitted to the UNFCCC), the International Energy Agency (IEA) and PRIMAP, all internationally recognized and accepted data sources. 20% of the assessment is based on the policy evaluation of national experts from NGOs and think tanks. All together 14 indicators are taken into account to assess a country’s performance. The latest available data, which allows for comparison of all 56 countries + EU included in the CCPI dates back to 2016.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar refers especially to one of the 14 indicators: the emissions trend in Ireland. However, he only refers to a one-year trend from 2016 to 2017, mentioning the reduction of emissions by 0.9%. However, the CCPI 2019 takes into account a five years trend (2011-2016) as a one-year trend can be easily misinterpreted through events such as a warm or cold winter or rapid developments of the economic growth rates. For the period from 2011-2016, we do not see a decline in the emissions but rather a growth of 7.5%. We do not reflect recent emission reductions in Ireland from 2016-2017 as mentioned but even if we would have done so we would have seen a growth in emissions in a five-year trend (2012-2017) of +5.5%. Therefore, Ireland cannot expect a much better ranking due to recent emission reduction from 2016 to 2017.

The level of the per capita GHG emissions (14.4t per capita CO2e incl. LULUCF in 2016) in Ireland is significantly above the EU average (7.9t per capita CO2e incl. LULUCF) and rated ‘very low’ in comparison to the other countries, as Ireland has the seventh highest per capita emissions of all assessed countries.

However, if emission reduction will be continued this will be reflected in the following CCPIs and might improve Ireland's ranking.

The same holds for the renewable energy category were the country currently rates ‘medium’. Looking at the five years trend (again 2011-2016) we see an increase of the renewable energy in energy use of 48%. Forthcoming support schemes for renewable heat and renewable electricity, as mentioned in the country text in the report, might further boost the country’s position within this category.

We always try to show a balanced picture of a country. Apart from pointing at shortcomings, the assessment for Ireland by national experts also acknowledged positive developments such as the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill.