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

Interim Target to reach 51% reduction by end of the decade will be enshrined in law

Public urged to join the Climate Conversation and help create a new Climate Action Plan to begin the journey to Net Zero

The Government has today 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 today, the Taoiseach Micheál Martin 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 being launched today. 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.


We are asking Climate scientists, experts and industry to share their data-based technical proposals to support development of the Plan. We also want 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 per cent, 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 we need to double our efforts and there is no time to waste. That is why, while the Climate Action Plan 2021 is being developed, we are today 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 we can turn ideas into action for a cleaner, brighter, healthier future for all. Join the conversation at and help shape our 2021 Climate Action Plan.


The consultation will remain open until 5pm, 18 May 2021.


Notes to the Editor


  • The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill will amend the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015 to significantly strengthen the framework for governance of climate action by the State in order to realise our national, EU and international climate goals and obligations.


  • Additional elements introduced by the Bill include:
  • Ø introducing a legal requirement for Government to adopt a series of  economy-wide 5-year carbon budgets, on a rolling 15-year basis, that will require Government, Ministers and public bodies to plan in an effective manner to meet climate targets;
  • Ø introducing a requirement for Government to adopt sectoral emission ceilings for each relevant sector within the limits of each carbon budget;
  • Ø expanding the Climate Change Advisory Council from eleven to fourteen members, and providing that future appointments to the Council provide for a greater range of relevant expertise;
  • Ø introducing a requirement to annually revise the Climate Action Plan and  prepare, at least once every five years, a National Long Term Climate Action Strategy; and
  • Ø providing that the Minister request, within 18 months of the enactment of the Bill, each Local Authority to prepare a Climate Action Plan to include both  mitigation and adaptation measures, and that these plans must be updated not less than once every five years.


  • The Bill has been informed by, and strongly reflects the recommendations as set out in the Report of the Citizens’ Assembly on ‘How the State Can Make Ireland a Leader in Tackling Climate Change’ and the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Action Report 2019; the provisions set out in the 2019 Climate Action Plan;  the Programme for Government – Our Shared Future and the Joint Committee on Climate Action’s Report on the Pre-Legislative Scrutiny of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill published on 18 December 2020. The Government has accepted the majority of the 78 recommendations made by the Joint Committee.


  • Government approval was given on 2 February 2021 to draft Heads of Bill which would give statutory effect to ending the issuing of new licences for the exploration and extraction of gas on the same basis as the decision taken in 2019 by the previous Government in relation to oil.  Minister Ryan made this Programme for Government commitment effective immediately upon taking office - DECC is no longer accepting new applications for exploration licences for natural gas or oil, nor will there be any future licensing rounds. This commitment will be provided for in legislation at the Committee Stage of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill.  We are also publishing the necessary draft amendments to the Petroleum and other Minerals Act today.


The Citizen-focused Component of Public Consultation

  • The aim of this component of the consultation is to give the public an opportunity to engage constructively with the development of the Climate Action Plan 2021.It will run in parallel with the call for expert evidence, which will commence on 23 March and will be open for a period of 8 weeks. It will involve a series of interlinked dialogues and conversations, which will take place under the National Dialogue for Climate Action.
  • Citizens and communities will be invited to share their views on policies and measures to support more ambitious climate action. This consultation will be held entirely online and consist of three stages:
  • (i) Broad Online Conversation:  This will consist of an online portal based on five key climate themes ((i) Home (ii) Travel (iii) Food and Waste (iv) Shopping and Recycling and (v) Local Climate and Environmental Action) with 4 to 6 open-ended questions to capture current thinking; an online quiz to help understand people’s willingness to change behavior; and supporting content to engage citizens on proposed future approaches.
  • (ii) Local Conversations via Public Participation Networks (PPNs): A series of agreed topics will be discussed and responded to at via moderated PPN events. The views and feedback will be summarised for analysis. Young people will also be asked to contribute via the Comhairle Na nÓg network, where they can provide their observations and suggestions for local action.
  • (iii) In-depth Citizen Conversations: A two week online community for participants will be set up to host a series of focus groups on different topics; run tasks to garner deeper feedback; and encourage creative input on different issues.  As part of this online citizen community, there will be a youth strand included in this conversation.


Climate Change Advisory Council Appointments

  • The Government has approved the appointment of three new members to the Climate Change Advisory Council. A further three positions will be added to the Council when the Bill is enacted including members with expertise in biodiversity, climate communications, sustainable agriculture and business, thereby expanding the membership to fourteen.
  • (i) Patricia King: Ms King is the General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) and has been active in the field of just transition for a number of years. She has developed a deep insight into the policy changes required to support workers in their transition from high carbon to low carbon jobs. She is a former vice-President of SIPTU and also served as one of two vice-Presidents of Congress. Ms King currently serves on the boards of the Dublin Airport Authority, the Apprenticeship Council and the Court Services Board.
  • (ii) Julie Sinnamon: Ms Sinnamon is the outgoing CEO of Enterprise Ireland. Prior to her appointment to CEO in November 2013, Julie held a number of senior public sector positions, spanning a 30 year career in Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland. Ms Sinnamon has considerable experience in a variety of industry sectors, most notably the food sector. She is a member of the Board and Investment Committee of Enterprise Ireland. 
  • (iii) Andrew Murphy: Mr Murphy is a director at Transport and Environment, a Brussels-based EU-level sustainable transport NGO. Prior to Transport and Environment, he worked in the European Parliament and the European Commission. A Galway native, he graduated from NUI Galway with a BA and LLB, and previously studied at the University of Richmond in the US.