Governments and industry must deliver transformative change on net zero but are currently constrained by significant barriers, including global public debt, domestic tensions, increased opposition to decarbonisation plans, and the need to guarantee energy supply, according to KPMG’s 2023 Net Zero Readiness Report, which examines steps taken by 24 countries, including Ireland.
The report assesses the key economic sectors required to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. It also discusses their preparedness and ability to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
Despite incremental momentum and specific successes such as the scaling up of low-carbon energy production from some of the world’s largest emitters, including the US, China, Brazil, Canada and the EU, progress is constrained by a backlash over the cost of decarbonisation and conflict over its domestic impact.
Russell Smyth, Head of Sustainable Futures
Ireland’s ambitious net zero targets
Commenting on Ireland’s preparedness and ability to half zero emissions by 2050, Russell Smyth, Head of Sustainable Futures, KPMG in Ireland, said, “The development of offshore wind will contribute to the government’s target of increasing the proportion of electricity from renewables from just below half to up to 80 percent, but growth has slowed recently. The grid is beginning to get saturated, and the easy early wins have been used up. Things are still positive, but it’s getting harder to move that proportion.”
Ireland already has the highest percentage of its electricity generated from onshore wind at more than 40 percent. It is now working to develop offshore wind, which as well as meeting domestic demand could allow the country to become an exporter of green hydrogen according to a National Hydrogen Strategy published in July 2023.
Ireland’s transport and agriculture challenges
Ireland’s transport emissions rose by 6 percent in 2022 showing that despite record numbers of EV’s on the road, more needs to be done to offer safe and sustainable alternatives to private cars. Cost alone is unlikely to change behavior given that 2022 saw post pandemic demand for petrol and diesel increasing despite relatively high prices.
Smyth adds, “There is also a lack of clarity over emissions reductions in agriculture, Ireland’s largest source of greenhouse gases and dominated by dairy and beef produced for export. While a 2021 KPMG study found that emissions reductions of around 20 percent could be achieved through widespread adoption of proven technologies, going beyond this at present would require new technology or reduced animal numbers.”
Impact of low carbon projects
In certain markets and sectors, the impact of low-carbon projects on local wildlife, biodiversity and communities is triggering a rise in ‘green on green’ conflicts, causing clashes between renewable projects and the local environment.
On an individual country level, meaningful progress is hindered by opposition to measures that are perceived to have a considerable cost to people’s livelihoods.
In fast-growing economies, rapidly increasing energy demand is triggering investment in both low carbon and fossil fuel generation, leaving certain countries, such as India, unlikely to reach net zero until 2070, while in China, coal consumption is projected to rise until 2025.
Mike Hayes, Global Head of Renewable Energy
Mixed progress across different sectors
Despite worldwide variation in adoption levels, the significant growth in the sales share of EVs is a global success story in how rapidly some sectors can decarbonise. However, within the international aviation and shipping industries, the pace of change is considerably slower and the goal of reaching net zero by 2050 hinges on significant increases in the production of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs), as well as government incentives.
Mike Hayes, Climate Change and Decarbonisation Leader and Global Head of Renewable Energy at KPMG International, said:
“Governments, businesses, and society should continue to pursue action to address climate change. Further divisions between local communities and global interests are to be expected, but if we are to truly make meaningful strides towards net zero, at the necessary pace, while ensuring a stable energy supply, much greater focus is required. This includes in areas such as the policy environment (both carrot and stick), technical innovation, and educating society about the transformational changes that are required in our consumption and investment behaviors.”
Explore the country profiles from the Net Zero Readiness Report using the interactive map below. Click on each country to learn about their preparedness and ability to achieve net zero emissions of these gases by 2050.
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The Net Zero Readiness Report (NZRR) examines steps taken by 24 countries, including Ireland, as well as key economic sectors to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. It also discusses their preparedness and ability to achieve net zero emissions of these gases by 2050.
If you have any queries about our report, or its possible impacts for your business, please contact Michael Hayes or Russell Smyth of our Sustainable Futures practice.
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Global Head of Renewables
KPMG in Ireland
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