The regulation of greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland is determined through two different mechanisms.
Emissions from power generation and large industrial installations are regulated by the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), which imposes an overall emissions target at EU level rather than Member State level.
Emissions from other sectors of the economy, including agriculture, transport, buildings, waste, and other industrial sectors are subject to targets at Member State level. The 2009 Effort Sharing Decision (ESD) 406/2009/EC established binding annual greenhouse gas emissions targets for EU Member States for the period 2013 to 2020 for these non-ETS sectors. For the year 2020 itself, the target set for Ireland is that emissions should be 20% below their levels in 2005.
For the period to 2030, the recently agreed EU Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) sets out binding annual emission targets for each Member State for the period 2021 to 2030. Ireland’s target under this Regulation will require a 30% reduction in 2005 levels of emissions by 2030.
Both the Effort Sharing Decision and Effort Sharing Regulation incorporate a number of mechanisms that provide some flexibility to Member States in the achievement of their annual targets. These include provisions to bank or to carry forward allowances from earlier or future years or to purchase allowances from other Member States. These mechanisms are essential to take account of inter-annual fluctuations in greenhouse gas emissions, notwithstanding the objective to reduce overall emissions over time.
A number of further mitigation options are built into the ESR for all Member States, including provision to transfer allowances from the ETS to the non-ETS sector and provision to take account of emissions credits attributable to land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) activities.
The latest available projections of greenhouse gas emissions, published by the EPA in May 2018, indicate that Ireland’s effective emissions budget for the 2021 to 2030 period for non-ETS sectors, arising from the ESR annual ceilings, will be 380.3 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent.
In light of the fact that key emitting sectors are already subject to effective carbon budgets, either at EU level or Member State level as set out above, I have no plans to introduce an alternative carbon budget along the lines described by the Deputy.