I propose to take Questions Nos. 541 and 542 together.
Greenhouse gas emissions and removals associated with land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF), as reported in Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions inventory prepared by the Environmental Protection Agency, include activities associated with afforestation and forestry harvesting, grassland and cropland management under agricultural use, managed and unmanaged wetlands, and other land-use categories. While such emissions are not currently accounted for in relation to the calculation of compliance with Ireland’s emissions targets in the period to 2020, from 2021 onwards these emissions will be integrated into the EU framework for compliance with national emissions targets. It is, therefore, essential that Ireland has robust policies in place to manage emissions and enhance removals from relevant LULUCF sectoral categories.
Hedgerows are an important feature of the Irish pastoral landscape and can play a potential role in carbon sequestration. The latest estimates suggest that the hedgerow length in Ireland is over 600,000km. On the basis of the information available at the moment, hedgerows could potentially sequester somewhere in the region of 0.1 Mt carbon dioxide to 0.5 Mt carbon dioxide. In order to refine the figures to allow for inclusion in the National GHG Inventory, further remote sensing investigations would be required to create a national detailed inventory of hedgerows. Further hedgerow surveys would also be required to refine classifications and identify appropriate sites. Proposals for research along these lines are under consideration in the Environmental Protection Agency in the context of its 2019 research call.
I am currently preparing an All of Government Climate Plan which will set out the actions which must be taken to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change. I am working with colleagues across Government to develop new initiatives in electricity, transport and heat, as well as a range of other sectors. I intend that the Plan will also include actions to develop and implement policies to manage emissions and enhance removals from relevant LULUCF sectoral categories.