There must be a complete transformation of society in order for Ireland's emissions targets to be reached, an Oireachtas committee has heard.

The Joint Committee on Environment and Climate Action is holding three meetings this week to consider Ireland’s first Carbon Budgets.

Today it heard from representatives of the Climate Change Advisory Council which drew up the carbon budgets.

Council representative Professor Brian Ó Gallachóir said implementing them would require "complete transformation".

He said that reducing emissions would involve rapid and sustained economic, social and technological transformation across the economy.

Dr Hannah Daly of University College Cork said there must be a "relentless" move away from our reliance on fossil fuels, which currently make up 88% of Irish energy.

She said there was no single solution and changes would be societal, economic and political.

Dr Daly also said renewable electricity is a cornerstone of meeting decarbonisation targets as it also powers other energy sources.


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Fianna Fáil TD Christopher O'Sullivan asked how the council would answer criticism that the carbon budgets allowed for the heavy lifting on emissions reductions to happen later in the decade.

Professor Ó Gallaghóir said this was not a cop out and was due to several factors including the ability to scale up.

He said it would be very damaging if the first carbon budget was not achievable.

Dr Daly said a massive scrappage scheme would be required later in the decade to remove cars from the system.

Green Party TD Brian Leddin, who chairs the committee, said politicians would have to make unpopular decisions on climate mitigation.

He also said there is a very significant gap between what the Council is doing and what politicians need to do.