Irish businesses take urgent steps to help meet global carbon emission targets

12 October, 2018

  • The Paris Agreement is slipping further out of reach, warns PwC report
  • Ireland has all the components to be a global leading green economy
  • Climate Leadership Forum calls for collaborative approach to climate action with strong leadership from the business community and Government policy makers

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, published last Monday, called for urgent and collaborative action on decarbonising global economies. The latest report presents the starkest warning to date of the risks associated with our slower than required global level of decarbonisation and calls for a transformation of the world economy at a speed and scale that has ‘no documented historical precedent’.

Green economy landscape with wind turbines.

PwC’s global report ‘The low carbon economy 2018: Time to get on with it’, published in Ireland today, concludes that no one country is achieving the decarbonisation rate needed to limit warming to two degrees. It notes that global carbon intensity continued to fall at a rate consistent with the previous few years, at 2.6% but even this falls short of the 3% average decarbonisation rate needed to meet the weak national targets pledged in the 2015 Paris Agreement. A reduction in carbon intensity of 6.4% every year for the rest of this century would be required to limit global warming to two degrees. This echoes the IPCC call for transformative change.

While Ireland has significant ground to make up in order to meet its 2030 decarbonisation targets, a successful transition can be navigated through meaningful collaboration between Irish businesses and policy makers. Today’s inaugural Irish Climate Leadership Forum, hosted by PwC in association with Natural Capital Partners and Business in the Community Ireland, looks at solutions for climate change. It brings together for the first time the stakeholders in Ireland needed to inspire, innovate and inform on the value of climate action for Irish businesses, policy makers and stakeholders. The conference calls for a collaborative approach to climate action, with a shared ambitious vision that Irish businesses can understand and value. Many of the ingredients are already in place - corporate interest, a skilled workforce, appetite for investment and expertise on climate solutions – giving Ireland all of the components to be a global leading green economy.

Addressing the Forum, Kim McClenaghan, Strategy Partner, PwC Ireland, said: “The PwC report highlights that not one country is on track with the decarbonisation rate needed to achieve the Paris Agreement goal. Without a dramatic step up in decarbonisation efforts, at the current rate the two degrees carbon budget will run out in fewer than 20 years.”   

“While the challenges are significant, there are indications that Ireland can lead in aspects of the transition. From an energy perspective, our reliance on imported fossil fuel for heat and transport actually strengthens the case to accelerate our deployment of renewable electricity generation. We are world leaders in accommodating high volumes of solar and wind generation on our electricity grid and we can look to capitalise on this through our ecosystem of start-ups combined with a highly skilled and entrepreneurial workforce."

Speaking before the forum, Tomás Sercovich, CEO, Business in the Community Ireland, said:

“Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing business. We continue to experience more frequent and severe weather events and these are predicted to intensify as temperatures continue to rise. This will play a significant role in how businesses operate and CEOs will be considering the impact of climate change across their businesses and value chains, as they look to build more resilient companies. The opportunity is now for Irish business to take the lead on climate action, which would be a significant step towards Ireland meeting the global carbon emission targets set in the Paris agreement.”

Also addressing the audience, Carmel McQuaid, Head of Sustainable Business, Marks and Spencer, said: “Marks and Spencer recognises the need to do all it can to tackle climate change. It makes sense for our business, it is what our customers expect of us and that’s why we’ve been a carbon neutral business since 2012. In Ireland we are delighted to join many other companies in signing up to the BITC low carbon pledge, so together I am confident we can transition to a low carbon economy.”

Partner to Marks and Spencer and PwC on their global climate action programmes and co-organiser of the conference, Tom Popple, Senior Manager Climate Change and Sustainability, Natural Capital Partners, said “Corporate leadership to achieve net-zero emissions via credible and high impact approaches, such as those used by Marks and Spencer and PwC Global, are needed now more than ever. Solutions are available now for businesses to immediately reach carbon neutral targets and fund the transition to a low carbon economy and we support Irish businesses and policymakers in ensuring this call to action becomes a reality.”

Other speakers at the event included: Dr Tara Shine, Director, Change by Degrees; Frank Convery, Chief Economist, Environmental Defense Fund; Tom O’Brien, CEO, Brookfield Renewable; Kevin Collins, Head of Environment, Forest Inspectorate, DAFM; Ian Kilgallon, Innovation and Business Development Manager, Gas Networks Ireland and John Weakliam, CEO, Vita Green Impact Fund.


Notes to editors

PwC recognises the importance of fostering a culture that promotes sustainability and social inclusion and are committed to playing its part in achieving a low carbon economy. It is not just good for business, it is the right thing to do.

PwC Ireland has already almost halved its carbon footprint since 2008. PwC Ireland is committed to further reducing its carbon emissions by 50% by 2030. As a firm, we are very conscious of minimising our environmental footprint and developing our business in a safe and sustainable manner.

About the Low Carbon Economy Index (LCEI):
The LCEI model combines energy-related CO2 emissions with historic and projected GDP data, and the IPCC’s carbon budgets. The model covers energy and macroeconomic data from individual G20 economies, as well as world totals. Details of our model structure are available in the Appendix of the LCEI report.

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Contact us

Kim McClenaghan

Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 1 792 6912

Johanna Dehaene

Corporate Communications, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 1 792 6547

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