I would like to thank the committee for the opportunity to introduce the process underpinning the carbon budgets that were proposed by the Climate Change Advisory Council. I am professor of energy engineering at University College Cork, UCC. I am director of MaREI, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine. I am the elected chair of the International Energy Agency, IEA, technology collaboration programme on energy systems modelling. I was one of 15 individuals invited to join council members on its carbon budgets committee, which was chaired by Ms Donnelly.
A number of other committee members are present to answer the committee's questions regarding the process and approaches that led to the formation of the proposed carbon budgets, namely Dr. Hannah Daly, UCC; Dr. David Styles, University of Limerick, UL; Dr. Trevor Donnellan and Dr. Kevin Hanrahan Teagasc; Professor Lisa Ryan, University College Dublin, UCD; Ms Patricia King, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, ICTU; Professor Peter Thorne, Maynooth University; along with Ms Marie Donnelly, who is chair of the Climate Change Advisory Council, as well as of the carbon budgets committee.
It was challenging for the council to assemble the necessary information and to propose carbon budgets in the timeframe required. Great credit is due to the secretariat in co-ordinating the meetings, analysis and engagements that supported the committee in its work. The committee would not have been able to produce these proposed carbon budgets had we not been able to draw on the modelling research capacity in energy and agricultural land use that was made available by UCC, Teagasc and UL. The continued and increased support for this research and analytical modelling capacity going forward is essential for informing national climate mitigation policy.
The most significant factor underpinning the proposed carbon budgets is the obligation under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021 to achieve a 51% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, relative to 2018 levels. In addition, the committee also considered the implications for energy use and supply, for agricultural land use, alignment with EU policy and with the Paris Agreement and the economic and societal implications of the carbon budgets.
I am confident that the carbon budget proposed by the council represent the optimum balance between the various obligations we will require to consider under the Act. I have provided the committee with two diagrams. Figure 1 presents the proposed carbon budgets. Figure 2 illustrates an indicative future emissions trajectory that delivers the proposed carbon budgets. These are both from the council's carbon budget technical report.
On the background, the council agreed at its meeting on Friday, 5 March 2021 to establish a committee on carbon budgets to provide recommendations for carbon budget proposals prior to the council's final decision on the proposals to submit to Government.
In terms of the background, the council agreed at its meeting on Friday, 5 March to establish a committee on carbon budgets to provide recommendations for carbon budget proposals prior to the council's final decision on the proposals to submit to Government. The committee was tasked with drawing up carbon budgets, considering the criteria set out in legislation, namely, the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015 and the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill introduced in March 2021. Towards this end, the committee members met more than 15 times between March and September 2021. The approach adopted by the committee was to consider each obligation under the Act individually, drawing on analysis, modelling and expert engagement; to discuss the obligations in detail; to address information gaps; and to formulate a view of how each obligation impacted the carbon budgets. The approach is described in further detail in the background document submitted to the committee on 7 January and in the carbon budgets technical report.
The committee was able to draw on analysis in the form of modelling results, technical papers and presentations that were prepared for it on a range of topics relevant to the formation of the carbon budgets, namely, the implications of different sectoral emissions reduction pathways on the energy system, agriculture, land use and forestry; the alignment of proposed national carbon budgets with the EU 2030 Fit for 55 proposed emissions reduction targets for Ireland; economic, employment and distributional implications of carbon budgets, which also informed considerations of climate justice; the implications of the Paris Agreement on Ireland's carbon budgets; and the potential impacts of climate action on biodiversity.
Towards developing the proposed carbon budgets, the committee considered a range of scenarios with different mitigation efforts across the energy system and agriculture that were consistent with meeting the overall 51% emissions reduction target in line with the council's legislative mandate. In addition, the committee also considered a set of scenarios to explore the speed and scale of change required across the energy sector to meet the 51% mitigation target and to discover the potential costs associated with delivering the target at different speeds of reduction, that is, the impacts of seeking to achieve more ambitious earlier and later mitigation. In addition to the modelling, analysis and technical papers prepared for and by committee members, the committee also took into account the recently published Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, AR6 Working Group 1 report, the latest Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, greenhouse gas emissions inventories and projections, the latest available information regarding mitigation technologies and costs, the potential for negative emissions, outreach with stakeholder Departments and agencies, and a workshop with international experts on the science of national mitigation efforts and gases and the 1.5oC target.
The ambition mandated by the legislation represents a significant step change beyond current climate mitigation policies and measures. This step change in ambition is reflected in the proposed carbon budgets and will require rapid and sustained economic, social and technological transformation across all sectors of the economy. The carbon budgets were developed and proposed during 2021, that is, in year one of the first carbon budget period. We are now in year two. I would encourage this committee to recommend that these carbon budgets be adopted and, further, to ensure the necessary urgency is directed at developing and implementing the policy supports and regulations to enable Ireland to remain within these carbon budgets.