'Hugely ambitious' - Climate Action Bill approved by Cabinet

Mar 23, 2021

 

The Cabinet has approved a revised Climate Action Bill today.

The preparation of the 2021 Climate Action Plan will now involve a major public consultation, launched today, open until 18 May 2021.

The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021 will support Ireland’s transition to ‘Net Zero’, i.e. reducing to zero its overall emissions of carbon dioxide, and achieve a climate neutral economy by no later than 2050.

Among the key elements of the Bill is that it puts in law the ‘national climate objective’ to reduce emissions by 51% by 2030, and to reach net zero by 2050.  The 'national climate objective' is for Ireland to have a ‘climate resilient, biodiversity-rich, environmentally-sustainable and climate-neutral economy.

One of the measures to achieve this transition is carbon budgeting, which the Bill now embeds into law. The Government is required to adopt a series of economy-wide five-year carbon budgets from 2021. The first two of these should equate to a total reduction of 51% emissions over the period to 2030, in line with the July Programme for Government commitment.

There will be legally-binding sectoral targets, to be proposed by a Climate Change Advisory Council strengthened and expanded in size to widen its range of expertise and improve its gender balance. The relevant Government Minister will be responsible for achieving these sectoral targets, and for accounting before an Oireachtas Committee each year.

Actions for each sector will be detailed in the Climate Action Plan, which will be updated annually, and a National Long Term Climate Action Strategy will be prepared every five years. Each local authority will also now have to prepare a Climate Action Plan, which will include both mitigation and adaptation measures and which will be updated every five years, and aligned to their Local authority Development Plans. Public Bodies will also be obliged to perform their functions in a manner consistent with national climate plans and strategies, and furthering the achievement of the national climate objective.

Speaking about the Bill, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar, TD stated that the Bill is ‘hugely ambitious’ and ‘binds us to climate action with 5-year carbon budgets and it is a whole of government approach in a meaningful way, a legally binding requirement to have sectoral greenhouse gas emissions ceilings, so each Minister will be responsible for their area’.