Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Questions (67)

Bernard Durkan


67. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the three most important actions he plans to take to address the issue of climate change and carbon reduction including development of the alternative energy sector and incentivising the transport sector to change to renewable fuels; the extent to which the domestic transport sector can be influential in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7415/18]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The 2014 National Policy Position on Climate Action and Low Carbon Development sets out an ambitious long-term commitment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in Ireland by at least 80% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2050 across the electricity generation, built environment and transport sectors; and in parallel, to pursue an approach to carbon neutrality in the agriculture and land-use sector, including forestry, which does not compromise capacity for sustainable food production.

Under the Paris Agreement, the EU has committed, on behalf of its Member States, to a reduction of at least 40% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, to be achieved by reductions in the Emission Trading System (ETS) sector of 43% and in the non-ETS sector of 30%. Ireland's contribution to the overall 30% reduction in the non-ETS sector by 2030, as well as the contributions to be made by other Member States, will be established in the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR), which will replace the current Effort Sharing Decision. In December 2017, the European Parliament and the Council reached a provisional agreement on the proposed ESR and I expect that this agreement to be shortly formally endorsed by both the European Parliament and Council. This provisional agreement sets a target of a 30% reduction in Ireland’s 2005 emissions by 2030, with a starting point of May 2019, based on average emissions over the period 2016 to 2018.

Official inventories of Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions are prepared annually by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The most recent data, for the year 2015, is available on the EPA's website at:

According to this data, the breakdown of emissions by sector in 2015 is as follows:


Mt CO2eq.

% of total 2015 emissions







Energy Industries






Manufacturing Combustion



Industrial Processes






Commercial Services






Public Services



Total ETS



Total Non-ETS



Total for all sectors



The latest EPA report on greenhouse gas emissions, published on 27 November, indicates that Ireland complied with its annual limits in the period 2013-2016. However, EPA projections indicate that Ireland is expected to exceed its annual limits from 2017 onwards, and that emissions could be between 4% and 6% below 2005 levels by 2020, and between 1% and 3% below 2005 levels by 2030. The projected shortfall to our targets in 2020 reflects both the constrained investment capacity over the past decade due to the economic crisis, and the extremely challenging nature of the target itself. It is now accepted that Ireland’s 2020 target was not consistent with what would be achievable on an EU wide cost-effective basis. In the light of this, Ireland’s 2030 target will present a very significant challenge.

As a means of addressing this challenge, I published Ireland’s first statutory National Mitigation Plan last July. It provides a framework to guide investment decisions by Government in domestic measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A key objective of the Plan is to close the gap to Ireland's 2020 EU target and to prepare for the EU targets that Ireland will take on for 2030.  The Plan sets out over 70 individual mitigation measures and 106 related actions to reduce emissions in the four sectors with the most significant contribution to national emissions (Electricity Generation; the Built Environment; Transport; and Agriculture, Forestry and Land Use). Action across all sectors will be paramount to building the foundations for Ireland’s low carbon transformation considering the cross-cutting nature of the climate challenge.

Although the Plan does not provide a complete roadmap to achieve either Ireland’s proposed 2030 target or the 2050 transition objective, it begins the process of developing medium-to-long-term policy options so as to achieve progressive emissions reductions in each of the four key sectors, and to ensure that we are well positioned to take the necessary actions in the next and future decades.

It is important to note that the National Mitigation Plan is a living document that will be updated as on-going analysis, dialogue and technological innovation generate more and more cost-effective sectoral mitigation options. This continuous review process reflects the broad and evolving nature of the sectoral challenges outlined in the Plan, coupled with the continued development and deployment of emerging low carbon and cost effective technologies across different sectors of the economy.

Question No. 68 answered with Question No. 26.