The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan T.D., has welcomed the publication of the proposed carbon budgets from the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC).
This is the first time that Ireland will set limits on greenhouse gas emissions for set periods of time.
The carbon budgets are part of a roadmap of actions that are set out in the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021. The Act, which was signed into law in July of this year, commits Ireland to reach a legally-binding target of net-zero emissions no later than 2050, and a cut of 51% by 2030 (compared to 2018 levels).
The proposed carbon budgets will go to Government and then to the Oireachtas. The Oireachtas will be tasked with reviewing and approving these carbon budgets within a 4-month period. Once these overall, economy-wide carbon budgets are approved, the Government will divide the overall carbon budgets into sectoral emissions ceilings.
To ensure that climate action continues at pace, the Government will publish Climate Action Plan 2021 in the coming weeks. This plan will set out indicative ranges of emissions reductions for all sectors. It will also set out the practical measures that we need to take to meet our climate targets.
Commenting on today’s development, Minister Ryan said: “When we passed the Climate Act in July we embedded the process of carbon budgeting into law. The Act also strengthened the role of the Climate Change Advisory Council, to empower this independent body to do this important work, based on the most up-to-date climate science. These first carbon budgets are a significant milestone in our efforts to tackle climate change.
“The first two 5-year carbon budgets equate to a total reduction of 51% emissions over the period to 2030. This is part of the journey towards ‘net zero’, which commits us to the transition to a ‘climate resilient, biodiversity rich, environmentally sustainable and climate neutral economy’ no later than 2050.
“The Government will shortly publish Climate Action Plan 2021. Every sector of the economy will need to play its part. There will be different targets for each sector, based on their respective starting points and the relative difficulty, cost, speed and benefits of reducing emissions.
“This will be challenging and will require fundamental changes in many parts of Irish life, but it is also an opportunity to create a cleaner, greener economy and society that cuts emissions, creates jobs and protects our people and the planet.”
NOTES TO THE EDITOR
About the Climate Change Advisory Council
Section 8 of the Climate and Low Carbon Development Act 2015 established the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC) on a statutory basis on 18th January 2016. The Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC) provides independent and science-based advice to Government and policy makers on what Ireland needs to do to achieve a climate resilient, biodiversity rich, environmentally sustainable and climate neutral economy by 2050. It is also tasked with assessing the progress made towards this goal.
What is a carbon budget?
The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021 established a system of carbon budgeting with three 5-year economy-wide budgets included in each carbon budget programme. Each carbon budget represents the total amount of greenhouse gases that may be emitted in the State during each 5-year period, measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. The carbon budgets will be consistent with furthering the achievement of the national climate objective and include all greenhouse gases. The first carbon budget programme will comprise carbon budgets for the following periods: 2021-2025; 2026-2030 and 2031-2035, with the carbon budget for 2031-2035 being provisional.
What is a sectoral emissions ceiling?
A sectoral emissions ceiling is the maximum amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are permitted in a sector of the economy during each 5-year carbon budget. The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, in consultation with other relevant Ministers, will develop a sectoral emissions ceiling for each relevant sector within each 5-year budget, once the overall carbon budget has been adopted.
How will carbon budgets be agreed?
When the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC) has proposed a programme of three successive 5-year carbon budgets to the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the Minister will, within four months, consider the budgets proposed, consult with other relevant Ministers and with the public, amend the proposed carbon budget if appropriate, and present the budgets to the Government. Once approved by Government, the Minister will propose a motion in both Houses of the Oireachtas for approval of the carbon budget. The carbon budget shall have effect on and from the date on which a motion approving the carbon budget has been passed by both Houses.
Who will monitor compliance with carbon budgets and actions?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) annual greenhouse gas inventory and projection reports and the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC) annual report will inform monitoring of compliance with national and sectoral progress towards each carbon budget and sectoral emissions ceiling.
Each year, the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC) must report by 15th September, following which relevant Ministers will be required to give account to an Oireachtas Committee on the following matters: performance both in implementing Climate Action Plan actions and in adhering to their sector’s emissions ceiling under the carbon budget period. Where Ministers are not in compliance with the targets, they will need to outline what corrective measures are envisaged. Ministers will have to attend the Committee and respond to any recommendations made by the Committee within 3 months. This ‘comply or explain’ approach will ensure greater scrutiny and accountability is provided.
The annual revision to the Climate Action Plan acts as a further review mechanism and opportunity to re-adjust or refocus actions to ensure targets are achieved.
The existing governance mechanisms established on an administrative basis by the 2019 Climate Action Plan will also continue. That is, the Department of the Taoiseach will oversee implementation of actions under the Climate Action Plan and publish quarterly progress reports.
CONTACT DETAILS FOR FURTHER MEDIA QUERIES:
DECC (Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications) Press Office
Jim Breen; Gerry Kavanagh; Press Office: 087-6937580 / Press.Office@decc.gov.ie