Government approves landmark Climate Bill putting Ireland on the path to net-zero emissions by 2050

 

The Government has approved the final text of legislation to set Ireland on the path to net-Zero emissions no later than 2050, and to a 51% reduction in emissions by the end of this decade.

The Bill will also provide the framework for Ireland to meet its international and EU climate commitments and to become a leader rather than a laggard in addressing climate change.

The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill, which is a key commitment in the Programme for Government, will now progress through the Houses of the Oireachtas as priority legislation.

Key Highlights of the Bill

  • The final version of the Climate Bill embeds the process of setting binding and ambitious emissions-reductions targets in law
  • The Bill provides for a national climate objective, which commits to pursue and achieve no later than 2050, the transition to a climate resilient, biodiversity-rich, environmentally-sustainable and climate-neutral economy
  • The Bill provides that the first two five-year carbon budgets proposed by the Climate Change Advisory Council should equate to a total reduction of 51% over the period to 2030, relative to a baseline of 2018
  • The role of the Climate Change Advisory Council has been strengthened, enabling it to propose carbon budgets to the Minister which match our ambition and international obligations
  • The government must adopt carbon budgets that are consistent with the Paris agreement and other international obligations. All forms of greenhouse gas emissions including biogenic methane will be included in the carbon budgets. However it is up to government to decide on the trajectories for different sectors
  • The Government will determine, following consultation, how to apply the carbon budget across the relevant sectors, and what each sector will contribute in a given five-year period
  • Actions for each sector will be detailed in the Climate Action Plan which must be updated annually
  • Government Ministers will be responsible for achieving the legally-binding targets for their own sectoral area with each Minister accounting for their performance towards sectoral targets and actions before an Oireachtas Committee each year
  • Local Authorities must prepare individual Climate Action Plans which will include both mitigation and adaptation measures and will be updated every five years. Local Authority Development Plans must be aligned with their Climate Action Plan
  • Public Bodies will be obliged to take account of Climate Action Plans in the performance of their functions

Speaking last week, the Taoiseach said: "This is a landmark day for Ireland. We all know that Climate Change is already happening, and the time to act is now. The Bill we are publishing today affirms our ambition to be a global leader in this field. As we begin our journey towards net zero emissions, the government is committed to tackling the challenges, and embracing the opportunities, this transition can bring our economy, our society and our country. We must continue to act, across Government, as there is no time to waste when it comes to securing our future."

The Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar TD said: "As we emerge from the pandemic, we must ensure that the road to recovery is a sustainable one. I am confident that the decarbonisation of the economy will present significant opportunities for Irish business, for trade and for new employment. Whether that be in the huge expansion of entire industries, such as retrofitting or offshore wind, by becoming an electricity exporter, or new jobs in cleantech, the early movers with the most ambition will see the greatest opportunities."

Minister for the Environment, Climate, and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD said: "We finally have urgent ambition set in legislation that puts Ireland on the road to net-zero emissions by 2050. We also have a legally-binding framework in place which includes accountability to deliver our target of a 51% reduction over the next decade. It’s time to set out a new Climate Action Plan, to begin the journey to Net Zero, by halving our emissions over the next ten years. In doing so, we can build a cleaner, more sustainable and secure future for us all."

The preparation of the 2021 Climate Action Plan will involve a major public consultation also launched last week. The government is inviting everyone to join the Climate Conversation and help chart Ireland’s journey to Net Zero, because net zero equals a better future for us all.

Climate scientists, experts and industry are being asked to share their data-based technical proposals to support development of the Plan. The Department also wants to hear from households and communities about what Government can do to further support them as part of Ireland’s journey to net zero.

In the past two years emissions have fallen by 4% and 6%, but we need to go further. We need to reduce emissions by at least 7% per year to ensure a 51% reduction by 2030 and climate neutrality by 2050.

There is no doubt that during the pandemic our capacity to deliver on a range of activities was challenged. We continued to implement the 2019 Climate Action Plan across Government Departments and over the lifetime of the Plan, succeeded in delivering on 78% of the actions.

But now it is necessary to double our efforts and there is no time to waste. That is why, while the Climate Action Plan 2021 is being developed, the Government is recommitting to a set of Interim Climate Actions. The Interim Climate Actions 2021 will ensure continued delivery of climate action across Departments and their Agencies. The Interim Climate Actions 2021 can also be used as a basis for review - people can contribute to the consultation by highlighting where greater commitment is required and increased action necessary for the 2021 Climate Action Plan.

Together, ideas can be turned into action for a cleaner, brighter, healthier future for all. Join the conversation and help shape the 2021 Climate Action Plan.

The consultation will remain open until 17.30 18 May 2021