Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Questions (16)

Eamon Ryan


16. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if Ireland is supporting proposals for the EU to commit, in the context of forthcoming COP24 in Katowice, to increasing the commitments in its nationally determined contribution to bring it in line with the 1.5°C target in the Paris Agreement. [41106/18]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I am fully cognisant of the urgent, global challenge of climate change and its effects, particularly those experienced in the developing countries. The publication on Monday of the IPCC Special Report on the Impacts of Global Warming of 1.5C highlights in stark terms the urgency of managing our global trajectory of emissions. The scale and complexity of this challenge demands a coordinated approach at both national and international levels. Ireland is committed to concerted multilateral action to tackle climate change through the Paris Agreement and to working with our EU and global partners in achieving the objectives of the Agreement. The Paris Agreement, which entered into force in November 2016, aims to hold the global average temperature increase to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit this increase to 1.5 °C.

The Agreement is designed to meet this objective through Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) submitted by all parties to the Agreement. Ireland will contribute via the NDC submitted by the EU on behalf of its Member States, and which commits the EU to a 40% reduction in EU-wide emissions by 2030 compared to 1990. In this context, the EU has undertaken to reduce emissions in sectors covered by the Emissions Trading System (ETS)  by 43%, and has agreed binding annual targets for each Member State for those emissions falling outside the ETS. Ireland’s target under this Regulation will be for a 30% reduction on 2005 levels of emissions by 2030.

Ireland's National Mitigation Plan, published in 2017, sets out the policy measures required in order to manage Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions at a level appropriate for making progress towards our long-term national transition objective, as set out in the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015, as well as to take into account our EU and international obligations. Although this first Plan does not provide a complete roadmap to achieve our national transition objective to 2050, it begins the process of development of medium- to long-term options to ensure that we are well positioned to take the necessary actions in the next and future decades. Building on the National Mitigation Plan, the publication in February 2018 of the National Development Plan, will lead to a significant step change in funding available for climate action over the next decade. Almost €22 billion will be directed, between Exchequer and non-Exchequer resources, to addressing the transition to a low-carbon and climate resilient society. In addition, the NDP allocated a further €8.6 billion for investments in sustainable mobility.

It is important to note that the National Mitigation Plan is a living document that will be updated as ongoing analysis, dialogue and technological innovation generate more and more cost-effective sectoral mitigation options. In accordance with the framework provided by the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015, the Government must prepare and submit to the Oireachtas an Annual Transition Statement. This Statement also serves as a progress report on the implementation of the National Mitigation Plan.

I am required, under the 2015 Act, to bring forward a new National Mitigation Plan at least once every five years. The latest date by which this must happen is, therefore, July 2022. I propose to initiate shortly the process of updating the current Plan in order to facilitate the detailed policy design required to realise the high-level of ambition articulated in the National Development Plan as well as to develop further cost-effective policy options to address Ireland's targets under the Effort Sharing Regulation. This process will also be informed by Ireland’s National Energy and Climate Plan, and by a new long-term low emissions strategy, both of which Ireland must prepare and finalise by the end of 2019 under the EU Clean Energy Package. I intend that the long-term strategy will further elaborate sectoral pathways for Ireland to meet its long-term decarbonisation objectives to 2050, as set out in the National Policy Position.

In line with the decision of the European Council of October 2014 on the EU's overall commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, Ireland has fully supported this level of ambition in recent negotiations to reform the EU ETS and to put in place Member State targets for non-ETS sectors under the EU Effort Sharing regulation. In addition, Ireland has also supported the high ambition for the proposals under the EU Clean Energy Package, while seeking to ensure that individual requirements on EU Member States would be fair, affordable and technically achievable.

Ireland also continues to support high ambition in ongoing negotiations at EU level in relation to emissions standards for both Light- and Heavy Duty Vehicles. I consider it essential that the EU seek the maximum possible ambition within these proposals which will contribute to enabling EU Member States, through strong, effective EU regulation, to meeting their respective targets for 2030.

Collectively, high ambition in all of the EU’s sectoral policies and targets for 2030 may enable the EU to achieve emissions reductions in excess of those already committed to by EU Heads of State and Government.