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Seanad Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 15 Feb 2022

Vol. 282 No. 12

Report of Joint Committee on the Carbon Budget: Motion

I move:

That Seanad Éireann shall take note of the Report of the Joint Committee on Environment and Climate Action laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas on 7th February, 2022, pursuant to section 6B(2) of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Acts 2015-2021 regarding the carbon budget, which was laid before Seanad Éireann on 6th December, 2021, pursuant to section 6B(1)(a) of the Acts.

I thank the Seanad for inviting me to discuss the carbon budget programme and the recently published report of the Oireachtas joint committee on the proposed carbon budgets. I welcome the committee's recommendation for the carbon budgets to be adopted and I greatly appreciate the approach taken by its members. A number of Senators were centrally involved in some of the work of the committee in the production of its report as they engaged with numerous stakeholders and experts and sought to achieve political consensus on the need for robust climate action. As I told the committee in November after returning from COP26 in Glasgow, I witnessed there the powerful testimony of many international leaders from climate vulnerable nations who painted a stark picture of the impact climate change is having on their nations.

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, report, Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis, establishes incontrovertibly that the negative effects of climate change are already being experienced globally and will continue to increase exponentially in magnitude and volatility along with global temperatures.

We made some progress towards this goal in Glasgow. Ireland had a significant presence there and undertook extensive engagement on a number of key areas that will feed into the global decarbonisation efforts. The Glasgow Climate Pact, which is an overarching agreement, keeps alive the ambition of restricting global temperature rise to 1.5°C. It strikes a balance between increasing climate ambition and delivering on calls for increased climate finance and adaptation supports. It provides a way for new dialogue on loss and damage, critical to supporting climate justice for those most exposed to climate change.

Last year saw a step change in our approach to climate action with the signing into law of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021 and our new climate action plan. The plan establishes our climate objectives in law and will underpin national climate action in the medium and long term. On 25 October last, the Climate Change Advisory Council submitted the first carbon budget programme under the Act. This programme comprised three consecutive five-year carbon budgets, bringing us to 2035. The first two budgets in the programme provided for a 51% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 relative to 2018, as set out in the Act. The third budget is provisional and is consistent with the 2050 national climate objective.

Last December I caused a copy of this proposed carbon budget programme to be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas. The Dáil referred the programme to the Joint Committee on Environment and Climate Action for its consideration. On 1 February the committee voted to support the proposed carbon budgets and on 7 February it published its report recommending that the budgets be adopted by both Houses of the Oireachtas.

In parallel and in accordance with the climate Act, a public consultation on the carbon budgets concluded last week and the submissions received are being reviewed by my officials. As part of the process to consider the proposed carbon budgets, I have consulted the relevant Ministers. Following consideration of the public consultation, the recommendation of the joint committee's report and input from Government colleagues, I will take the proposed carbon budget programme to Government for approval and a motion will be considered on the Government's proposed carbon budgets taking effect. Once these economy-wide carbon budgets are adapted, the Government will divide the budgets into sectoral emissions ceilings. Such ceilings will establish how each sector must contribute to meeting the target through further established sectoral decarbonisation targets.

It is crucial we prepare our carbon budgets and sectoral emissions ceiling and that delivery of climate action continues at pace. The climate action plan that I launched on 4 November with the Taoiseach and Tánaiste provides a detailed roadmap for meeting our climate ambition under the Act. The 2021 plan sets out indicative ranges of emissions reductions for each sector of the economy. Following the legal adoption of carbon budgets and sectoral emission ceilings, these ranges will be finalised and reflected in the 2022 climate action plan.

The Government has published an accompanying annex of actions to support the delivery of the climate action plan. The annex sets out the detailed actions and measures with timelines that are required to drive delivery and ensure our emissions fall. It also identifies the key Departments, State bodies and other key stakeholders that will oversee and implement the actions. The Government will support the changes through major public investment announced recently in the €165 billion national development plan, including increased funding for retrofitting our homes, building new public transport, reskilling workers and supporting a just transition.

While climate action plan for 2021 builds on the ambitious targets of the 2019 plan, it represents a significant step up in ambition and implementation. I will highlight a number of the most significant measures in the plan. It commits to increasing the proportion of renewable electricity to 80% by 2030, including an increasing target of 5 GW of offshore wind energy, and to a significant reduction in transport emissions by 2030, which will be achieved by enabling 500,000 extra walking, cycling and public transport journeys per day by 2030 and supporting the take-up of 1 million electric vehicles by 2030. It includes the implementation of a new national retrofit plan, which we discussed in the previous debate. It commits to a faster uptake of carbon neutral heating in our enterprise sector, increased electrification of high temperature heating and the phasing out of F-gases with high global warming potential. It includes reducing emissions associated with agriculture and provides a pathway to doing so while supporting world-class food production through innovation. There will be a reduction in chemical nitrogen. There will be more targeted use and a fall in the use of fertiliser, while maintaining our position as global leader in healthy, pastoral family farming systems. Reducing emissions for land use and moving it from being a source of emissions to a store will involve huge amounts of bog rehabilitation, significantly increased afforestation and the rewetting of peat organic soils. A new forestry programme will be prepared for launch in 2023.

The plan places a just transition at the core, setting out four principles that will guide our policymaking and implementation over the coming years to ensure we effectively monitor and manage our transition and that our responses remain flexible so we can respond to future transition challenges and target the areas in need of support. Each Minister as well as the Government as a whole will be expected to consider these principles as we develop and implement our climate policies. We have committed in the plan to establishing a just transition commission, which will make periodic recommendations to Government, building on research, engagement through the national dialogue on climate action and the annual review from the Climate Change Advisory Council, on how Government policy can further the just transition.

In delivering this ambitious climate action plan, we must ensure we bring people with us and the transition is fair. The national dialogue on climate action, launched in March 2021, will facilitate public engagement, participation, community action, networking and capacity-building activities, giving everyone in society the opportunity to play their part. Last November, I announced €60 million in funding from the climate action fund for community climate action projects to support and empower communities to shape and build low carbon sustainable communities in a coherent way.

The proposed carbon budget programme provides Ireland with a strong and deliverable framework for meeting our national climate objectives and our international obligations on climate action and emission reductions. It will require a considerable level of co-ordination and co-operation to ensure we meet these budgets. The processes undertaken to consider the proposed budgets highlights how to build political consensus towards robust and impactful climate action. It will take similar levels of engagement to achieve the delivery of the budgets.

The transition to a climate neutral economy will provide significant opportunities to foster innovation, create new jobs and grow businesses in areas like offshore wind, cutting-edge sustainable agriculture and low carbon building. While we must all act together towards our climate objective, I realise the cost of climate action will be more acutely felt by some than others. As a Government, we are committed to protecting those most vulnerable and ensuring a just transition to a low carbon economy.

I thank the Minister for that comprehensive introduction.

The Minister is welcome again. Many of us in the House were on the Joint Committee on Environment and Climate Action that has put this report together. It is appropriate, therefore, that we are discussing it in the Seanad.

We are in a climate emergency. I know we say that a lot but time is upon us. Particularly in relation to these carbon budgets, there is a statutory time laid down by which they have to come before the Oireachtas. We had that in mind. It is important to go back to the climate Act and look at the fact we strengthened the council that came up with the recommendations put before us. On the basis of its evidence before us and the extremely ambitious targets in the carbon budget, the committee decided to agree with its proposals.

We put forward several other recommendations that I hope the Minister will consider, particularly in respect of peatland. I know Senator Higgins put forward a recommendation relating to peatlands that I was certainly happy to support because it is something we could start doing immediately. I know the Government has been doing that immediately. It is also a crucial part of a just transition.

My core point is that these budgets are very ambitious. That is overwhelmingly what all of those who came before the committee stated. To be fair, three members of the committee did not agree with the proposal and believed it should go further. However, if we are looking at a just transition and are faced with incredibly onerous and ambitious targets, those who are seeking something that goes beyond that have to point to how we can go beyond that and still bring everyone with us and ensure we are meeting our targets. I am not sure that is possible based on the evidence that was presented to the committee.

The members of the Climate Change Advisory Council who spoke to the committee stated there were certain issues in respect of modelling, particularly when it comes to social justice. The reason for that is that we just have not been doing these budgets. That is something in which we need to invest in the coming years. There could be an ongoing process with the Department to bring scientists and departmental officials together on an ongoing basis to consider how we can model each individual decision that comes before us, because that is ultimately what these carbon budgets are going to come down to. We have a detailed climate action plan and in the annexe of actions there are hundreds of pages on what we have to do in each quarter of each year. In order to make those decisions, we need to do more than set carbon budgets. We probably need to do more than come back on it every year; we actually need to look at the individual actions.

That is substantially what I wish to add to the discussion. The committee was presented with good evidence, which the Minister has before him in the report. The difference of opinion substantially comes down to the issue of whether it is ambitious enough. I, and the majority of committee members, believed it was and that there was no convincing evidence that we could effectively go beyond that. I point to the remarks of Oisín Coghlan of Friends of the Earth Ireland. I will not quote his exact comments but all of the witnesses who contributed on the day he appeared before the committee were specifically asked if they agreed with the carbon budget and they confirmed they did. I know witnesses who appeared on another day went beyond that but what those people who have been dealing with politics for a long time feel quite strongly, as do I as somewhat of a newbie, is that we have to be realistic and ambitious and ensure we are doing something that is socially just but will, at the end of the day, get the job done.

I thank the Minister for his attendance and for taking two debates one after the other. I pay tribute to Deputy Leddin. As Chairman of the Oireachtas committee for the past 18 months, he has done a tremendous job of steering landmark legislation through the Oireachtas. Senators Higgins and Pauline O'Reilly and other committee members will agree that at all times Deputy Leddin has tried to do so in a very collegial and consensus-based manner. We do not agree all of the time. That is the way politics and the world of debate are and that is absolutely fine. I pay tribute to Deputy Leddin and his stellar leadership of the committee in getting us to where we are today.

In my simplistic view, carbon budgets set out a clearly defined roadmap we need to follow to achieve the targets we want to hit in 2030 and 2050. As the Minister stated, that roadmap includes the sectoral targets. I refer to how expansive those sectoral targets are, whether in agriculture, changing land use, active travel, transport or what we want to do with electric vehicles or getting people back on public transport. The targets are so vast and widespread that it is so important we have carbon budgets to provide that significant roadmap for people in a wide variety of sectors to be able to follow. I have no doubt that the introduction of carbon budgets will help us to get to a climate-resilient and, most important, a climate-neutral economy by 2050.

The public consultation was really important and there are many good views for the Minister and his officials to consider. What is impressive about the climate action committee is that it is able to draw on such a wide variety of people from academia, NGOs and a whole sector of society to get expert advice that we, as Oireachtas Members, can take back and put into a report and recommendations for the Minister to consider.

To add to the point made by Senator Pauline O'Reilly, while we have to be ambitious about this because that is what the climate crisis demands, it is also about doing it in a structured way so that we can bring people along with us. We have to accept that it is going to be more difficult to bring some people along with us than others. It is about convincing those people and being able to bring them on board in a simple manner that will help all of us get to the points we want to achieve. That is why it is important to be ambitious, but also to realise that we need to bring people along with us on this whole journey. There are many people in society who have been major advocates on climate justice and climate action politics for many years but the vast majority of the public have only got on board with it in the past four, five or six years. It is the average person on the street who we need to really convince about why we have to do this. That is exactly the type of person we need to bring along. We need to be ambitious but it is also very important to be cognisant of that fact.

I pay tribute to colleagues on the committee, particularly Senator Higgins, who is an excellent voice and brings a lot of experience, and Senator Pauline O'Reilly. I commend Deputy Leddin on doing an excellent job of steering such landmark legislation through the Oireachtas in the past 18 months. I cannot speak for everyone, but I think the committee would be lost without him.

To clarify for colleagues, it is just party spokespersons who may contribute on this occasion, according to the order of the House agreed earlier.

To clarify, I am representing Senator Dooley, who is the Fianna Fáil spokesperson and a member of the committee. Unfortunately, he had other urgent business to attend to, so I am here on his behalf and that of the party. I thank all those involved on the committee for the tremendous work they did. I echo the support expressed for the committee Chairman, who did an excellent job of steering the committee. I am sure it was not always easy.

As all present are aware, the science is indisputable. The effects of climate change are already clear. We know we have to act. By acting now, we can build a cleaner and greener economy and society that create opportunities for all. The Climate Action Plan 2021 provides a detailed plan for taking decisive action to achieve a 51% reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. That is important. It is why Fianna Fáil is very supportive of the motion before the House. Following discussion with my colleague, Senator Dooley, I acknowledge that while there were some differences in opinion among the stakeholder submissions to the committee and, no doubt, among the membership as well regarding the proposed carbon budgets and whether they should be more ambitious, it was certainly made abundantly clear that the committee should approve the budgets without delay in order to move the implementation of policy forward.

It is notable that the committee agreed, in spite of some differing opinions, that stakeholders share the one main climate ambition, that is, recognising the need for immediate and significant change to make the transition to a carbon-neutral economy. I think we all will acknowledge, as the report does, that the task ahead will be extremely challenging and that very difficult decisions will have to be made in the Dáil and in this House. Given the time lag between policy implementation and emissions reductions, substantial interventions are most definitely needed immediately in all sectors of the economy, with several stakeholders cautioning that 2022 is the second year of the first carbon budget.

I wish to comment briefly on the need for the Government to prepare measures immediately, which I know that the Minister has been working on, to ensure a just transition in all sectors of society, ensuring that those who have benefited most from and are most responsible for emissions bear the greatest burden. I speak as somebody from County Kildare, where, particularly in north-west Kildare, many communities have been very dependent on Bord na Móna, not just for employment; where they can, people still go out and cut turf for their own homes. They are greatly impacted by the transition. The communities in the smaller villages of Coill Dubh, Allenwood, Carbury, Derrinturn and Rathangan and of Kilberry and Athy developed from the employment provided by Bord na Móna. It is good to see just transition funding going to the Allenwood Community Development Association, ACDAL, in the Michael Fitzpatrick Centre. It has received sizeable funding to provide a hub for alternative employment. We are now looking at the Bord na Móna headquarters in Newbridge. Circumstances are changing for Bord na Móna as it diversifies. It has a sizeable site in the centre of Newbridge. Councillor Noel Heavey and myself are working on a proposal to try to ensure we have some kind of further education institution there that could do work similar to what An Foras Talúntais did in Lullymore on experimentation and a hub for employment measures, whereby people could start a small enterprise related to agriculture or climate change and could be given opportunities there. There is no doubt that we have to consider very positive measures like that. Of course, there will be a lot of emerging technologies and changing scientific consensus all the time. Because of that, the climate action plan needs to be updated annually. While we must have the roadmap of actions put in place, they will change as we go forward, learn more and see more developments in technology and research.

I wish to take this opportunity to endorse the report and to commend all the committee members and the Chairman of the committee on his leadership in bringing forward all these recommendations.

There will be a change of Ministers now. I thank the Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan, for his engagement, and welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Ossian Smyth.

I see that the Minister is staying. I thank him for doing so.

We have all been waiting a long time for the national carbon budgets. Like everybody else, I am very keen to see them implemented and to see a new, harder, firmer structure to our climate ambition. We have a duty, however, to make sure we get the budgets right, and we need to be very clear that getting them right does not delay the process. The process is under way. We on the climate committee are not tasked with simply approving or disapproving the budgets but with scrutinising them and advising the Minister before the draft carbon budgets are finalised. Again, improving or changing those budgets does not delay the process. The Minister mentioned there has been a public consultation, so we are not simply looking back on the carbon budgets. I am sure he will be back here engaging with us again when he brings his final carbon budgets forward to us. I hope that when he does so, those budgets will have been improved in a few crucial ways.

I hope he will bring forward carbon budgets that will, at a minimum, deliver the 7% average emissions reduction rate per annum promised in the programme for Government. In fact, I hope he will do better and deliver the 7.6% average emissions cut the UN has said we need. A 7% cut would mean a cut of 27 Mt in the budgets, and a 7.6% cut would mean a cut of 41 megatonnes. I sat with the Minister on a previous climate committee where we discussed exactly why those targets really matter and why those levels of cuts matter. We are talking about real emissions and the very hard target of 1.5°C, which, if we go above it, will tilt our world into unlivability. I hope the Minister will reflect that in the final budgets.

I also hope he will accompany the final budgets with two hard guarantees: first, climate justice and real funding - that is, additional funding - for where we fall short on climate justice, and, second, that there will no accountancy tricks. I will be frank; I am deeply concerned by suggestions of forward-counting, for example, which would go against the science and the reality and undermine the entire credibility of the carbon budget process if that were to happen. I say that to give the Minister a few key points to consider.

In the report there are many very good recommendations. I was very happy that my colleagues accepted a number of my recommendations, including on peatlands, as has been mentioned, on a potential limitation on demolition and, crucially, that in the second carbon budget there can be no carryover after 2030 because of that hard target of a 51% reduction in emissions. We need to publish the roadmap for an exit from the €2.4 billion in fossil fuel subsidies a lot earlier than 2024. They are important recommendations. I am concerned, however, that Government members voted against my recommendation that the megatonnage in each carbon budget should relate to removals and omissions measurable within the period of that budget and that no projected emissions reductions or removals that would occur beyond the timeframe of that budget should be included when calculating or assessing the budget. It is really important that the carbon budgets are the carbon budgets. We may need incentives in forestry and so on but we cannot play with the facts regarding incentives. If we start to do that, the credibility of the entire carbon budget process will be undermined. We, therefore, need a guarantee on that. The Minister knows there has been kite-flying on forward-counting, and simply saying we will count cuts later does not cut it. The carbon budgets are real and we need to treat them as such. They are based on the physical reality of emissions.

I come to the reason I, for the first time in six years on five committees, was not able to support this report. It was because it was not ambitious enough and did not reflect the science and, sadly, did not reflect the scientists in the body of the report. Some of the scientists who gave us hard, stark, important, challenging, detailed information, such as Professor Kevin Anderson, Professor Barry McMullin and Dr. Andrew Jackson, are listed in the appendices but not included in the body of the report. We cannot afford to look away or down when we hear important scientific testimony. As Professor Anderson said, the reason we face challenges with these carbon budgets is that we have had 33 years of not listening to scientific advice. Some of the most crucial scientific advice we heard came from Professor Barry McMullin, who made it clear that the carbon budgets as currently proposed will amount to a reduction of less than 6% per year. That was later confirmed by representatives of the Climate Change Advisory Council who told us that the carbon budgets as proposed amount to only a 5.7% reduction per year on average over the ten years to 2030.

To put that in context, the programme for Government committed to a 7% average reduction in overall greenhouse gases from 2021 to 2030. Even more important, the UN environmental programme stated we need a global average reduction of 7.6% every year if we want to stay below 1.5°C of heating. Over 1.5°C of heating, this world becomes unliveable, an actual hell for many across the planet. As a wealthy country, we should be doing much better than that average of 7.6°C. How can we conceivably justify the idea that we would be doing less than the average? Who should take up our slack because we find it so difficult to do these things? Are we asking countries like Malawi, where emissions for an average person are 100 times less than those of an average person in Ireland, to do more because we do not want to achieve even the average that is needed?

It is colonialism. That was put to us as a committee and Ireland needs to reflect on it. As one of the witnesses put it, we took their people, we took their minerals and now we want to take their carbon budget space. Our carbon budget is not something that sits within the Irish economy. It sits within the global carbon budget which sits within a planetary reality of the amount of emissions we can produce. If we produce more than our share, we are taking from others. We are directly taking from the poorest and from future generations and the space they need. We need to be honest about this. We talk about being real. That is the hard reality.

I urge the Minister to strengthen the carbon budgets and let Ireland show leadership. Professor Barry McMullin said it is no longer enough to do our best; we must do what is necessary. Sadly, this report does not demand enough. The carbon budgets as currently proposed do not deliver enough, certainly not for climate justice or for our planetary survival on this very beautiful planet in this opportunity we have right now.

I am glad to follow Senator Higgins. We have soldiered together on that Oireachtas committee. She is right. The analyses of the likes of Barry McMullin, Kevin Anderson and others have been presented and we cannot deny the science. It is clear and presents a completely scary reality that we are heading towards, seemingly inexorably. We have known the science since Dr. James Hansen testified before a US Senate committee back in 1988 The science has not changed that much. We know the risks, downsides and potential disaster that could unfold if we allow our climate that has been balanced and stable for 10,000 years to tip into runaway dangerous climate change. No one can deny that. That is the climate science.

What we need to work out as well is the political science to raise the level of urgency and response that is commensurate with the climate science. We have to admit that is difficult. The House is not full for this debate, for example, with no criticism of anyone. It is indicative of the need for change. How do we inspire in people a sense of urgency and a sense we can make the leap? It is a leap, given the scale of change. Whether it is 7% or higher, it is a leap. No one and no country has done anything like it and no example can be shown for that scale or speed of change. I believe we can and will do it. There will be various things encouraging us to make the leap. We need to be honest and upfront with people about the science. However, if it is just that story, we might get frozen in fear. A lot of people are frozen in fear. We need also to inspire people to make the leap out of love of home and love of each other.

It is appropriate to point out that making the leap, as well as protecting against the potential for runaway catastrophic climate change, can and will be good for us. It will be good for social justice; I am convinced of that. I have seen when campaigning on things like active travel or public transport that it is about recognising it is a more socially just system. Senator Kyne will know small farmers out in Connemara and those areas. That is where the money is going to go. It is going to create an income stream for many of the farmers who get the least out of the existing system. It will redistribute money to the north and west of the country because that is where we can do some of the nature-based solutions. We have to do it everywhere but certainly it will help those in parts of the country with poorer land who have been getting the least because by definition they are not as successful in this intensive agricultural system we have created. It will also be healthier. There is nothing to beat clean air for people's health. There is nothing to beat clean water. We have to address the biodiversity crisis as well as the climate crisis, and that means cleaner water. It means the farming has to change as we pay them more to help with those solutions. That is our health in a natural environment, with healthier food. A low carbon diet is a healthier diet.

It is also an economic opportunity for our country. It is an economic opportunity for every country because the nature of this renewable energy system we are going to switch to is that it is distributed. It is not as energy dense as oil, gas or nuclear but it is everywhere. It belongs to everyone. We will never hold someone to ransom over a solar panel. For us it is a massive economic opportunity. We can and will be good at this balancing act of electrifying everything and the dance between variable supply and variable demand. It is no harm for us to tell that story as well as the scientific story of real fear.

We have real potential because in Irish politics we have been working together in those Oireachtas committees and in previous governments. Deputy Richard Bruton's original plan in 2019 was really good and we are following it, just ramping up the level of ambition. We have achieved a broad consensus. That Oireachtas joint committee report in 2018 influenced what Deputy Bruton did in 2019, which in turn has influenced what we are doing now. Even though the committee may have been divided in terms of whether there needs to be further ambition, I do not think it is fundamentally divided on that sense that there is an opportunity for us to gain by taking this leap together. The vast majority in the Seanad, Dáil and local authorities throughout the country and the vast majority of the people are starting to believe that in their hearts and in their heads.

We are also fortunate to have a very good Climate Change Advisory Council which is really experienced. It produces the statistics and carries out oversight and reviewing, keeping an eye on Government. The council members came up with a lot of the proposals in terms of how we account for things. Professor Peter Thorne, who was formerly adviser to the joint committee, is on the Climate Change Advisory Council. I would trust Peter when it comes to managing this incredibly complex issue of land use, land use change and forestry, LULUCF, leading into the agriculture, forestry and other land use, AFOLU, accounting regulations. Peter is as good as it gets. He was one of the leading authors of the latest IPCC report, as I understand. That is backed up by those whom we got in from the IPCC to speak to the previous Oireachtas committee. We follow the science.

I will conclude on something from Senator Higgins's home turf. How do we make that work in Galway, which is in the news at the moment? I was in County Clare last week and met the council. It was very interesting. They are well up for this and open to it. They know their local area well. We need that local knowledge. We cannot push people into this, beat them into it with a stick, shame them into it or make them feel guilty. It has to come from the local. As we can see, that is difficult.

It was not about a lack of money or a lack of ideas in the end, but a fear as to whether this leap could be made. What we in politics do on this issue now is important. We need to listen and ask people to help. We should not necessarily tell them what to do in a top-down way that suggests we know best. We should inspire people that this can be done.

We have a tough budget. The budgets are real and tight. They will be harsh because if Ministers are not meeting their budgets, they will have to change their policies. I hope they will be held to account by Oireachtas committees and the Climate Change Advisory Council. Reference was made earlier to budgets in respect of the financing aspects earlier but these budgets must be more significant if they are to have meaning, which I believe they will. We have a strong Act and good constitutional protection and provision to back it up. We in Irish politics are not the worst in how we are approaching this. We can learn by doing, by listening to each other and by getting down to delivering. This Government has three years to go. It is about delivery, delivery and delivery. I am looking forward to the meeting of the Cabinet subcommittee on environment and climate change next week. I will be going with ideas as to how to deliver quickly in the areas of sustainable mobility, offshore wind, retrofitting, just transition, land-use planning and climate communications, which is the most important matter. Very few emissions will be saved by anything we say here today but, if we do not get the story right and inspire our people to believe that we are going to be good at this, we will not meet our budgets. However, if we do, we will. That is why I am keen to work with the Seanad and councils across this country in the coming three years.

I thank the Minister for that very motivational and inspirational address.

Question put and agreed to.

When is it proposed to sit again?

Tomorrow morning at 10.30 a.m.

Cuireadh an Seanad ar athló ag 7.22 p.m. go dtí 10.30 a.m., Dé Céadaoin, an 16 Feabhra 2022.
The Seanad adjourned at 7.22 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday, 16 February 2022.