Climate Change and Natural Resources, Dáil Issues, Oral Questions

To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the steps he will take to address the concerns highlighted in the most recent report from the Climate Action Change Advisory Council indicating that carbon emissions are increasing instead of decreasing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Clare Daly.

REPLY

As has been highlighted by the Climate Change Advisory Council in its 2018 Annual Review, published on 25 July, meeting Ireland’s EU targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and 2030 will be extremely challenging.

For 2030, the recently agreed EU Effort Sharing Regulation sets out binding annual greenhouse gas emission targets for each Member State for the period 2021 to 2030. Ireland’s target under this Regulation will be for a 30% reduction in 2005 levels of emissions by 2030. This is where we must now focus our efforts to ensure that, at the absolute very least, we meet our 2030 target.
To meet these targets, Ireland’s first statutory National Mitigation Plan, which I published in July last year, provides a framework to guide investment decisions by Government in domestic measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This Plan very explicitly defined the scale of the challenge Ireland faces in decarbonising its economy and acknowledged that it was a first step and not a complete roadmap to achieve the national transition objective to 2050. Rather it began the process of development of medium- to long-term options to ensure that we are well positioned to take the necessary actions in the next and future decades. The Plan is a ‘living document’ which is being implemented and updated on an on-going basis.

Building on these strategies, the publication in February of the National Development Plan, reaffirms the Government’s commitment to transitioning Ireland to a low carbon, climate resilient economy and society. It will lead to a significant step change in funding available for climate action over the next decade. This funding commitment provides a clear opportunity for significant up-scaling in our investments to deliver deep emissions reductions in the coming decade and to further develop and implement the National Mitigation Plan and National Adaptation Framework. Reflecting the strong commitment of Government on this issue, almost €22 billion will be directed, between Exchequer and non-Exchequer resources, to addressing the transition to a low-carbon and climate resilient society. This means that well over €1 in €5 spent under the National Development Plan will be on climate mitigation, and this capital investment will enable us to deliver a significant reduction in our greenhouse gas emissions over the period to 2030.

Notwithstanding this, I am required, under the 2015 Act, to bring forward a new National Mitigation Plan at least once every five years. The latest date by which this must happen is, therefore, July 2022.  I propose to initiate shortly the process of updating the current Plan in order to facilitate the detailed policy design required to realise the high-level of ambition articulated in the National Development Plan as well as to develop further cost-effective policy options to address Ireland’s targets under the Effort Sharing Regulation. This process will also be informed by Ireland’s National Energy and Climate Plan, and by a new long-term low emissions strategy, both of which Ireland must prepare and finalise by the end of 2019 under the EU Clean Energy Package. I intend that the long-term strategy will further elaborate sectoral pathways for Ireland to meet its long-term decarbonisation objectives to 2050, as set out in the National Policy Position.

I propose also to respond formally to the recommendations set out in the Council’s 2018 Annual Review in the context of the 2018 Annual Transition Statement, which I expect to be in a position to lay before the Houses of the Oireachtas in the coming weeks.