I propose to take Questions Nos. 772 to 774, inclusive, together.
I am now finalising a Government Climate Plan which will set out the actions to be taken to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change, including how Ireland will, at the very least, meet its targets for the period to 2030. The Plan will set out how this Government intends to make Ireland climate resilient across our entire society. It will have a strong focus on implementation, including clear timelines and steps needed to achieve each action. The goals and targets will be informed by analysis of the most cost-effective choices available to reach our 2030 targets. By articulating a decarbonisation ambition range for each sector, the framework provided by the Plan will enable each sector to identify and put in place the most appropriate policy tools to deliver this stated ambition in order for Ireland to meet its 2030 targets. I intend that the Plan will be published shortly.
Under the 2009 Effort Sharing Decision 406/2009/EC (ESD), which put in place binding annual emissions targets for each year between 2013 and 2020 for sectors outside the EU Emissions Trading System, Ireland must achieve a reduction of 20% relative to 2005 levels of emissions. Under the latest projections of greenhouse gas emissions, published earlier this month by the EPA, emissions from those sectors of the economy covered by the ESD could remain at between 0% and 1% below 2005 levels by 2020.
The ESD allows Member States to meet their targets by means of unused emissions allowances from earlier years, or through purchasing allowances from other Member States or on international markets. Ireland has already acquired a portion of the additional allowances that will be required for compliance. However, I am advised that Ireland will need to purchase additional allowances to meet projected shortfalls in 2019 and 2020. Under the ESD framework, compliance for any given year is calculated up to 18 months after the year in question. Therefore, the final budgetary impact of the cost of allowance purchases in respect of any ESD compliance shortfalls in 2019 and 2020 may not arise until 2021 or 2022. My Department currently estimates the cost of this requirement to be in the region of €6m to €13m, depending on the price and final quantity of allowances required.
Ireland’s strategy to meet its targets under the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (2008-2012) included investments in three multilateral funds, as well as a number of transactions for the purchase of carbon credits directly from the market. Through the direct market purchases and investment in the three funds, a total of €120 million was spent, in which 8,558,888 credits were received by the State. Of this total, 3,052,416 have been surrendered for compliance with the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. The remaining number of carbon credits currently held by the State is 5,506,472, which may be used for ESD compliance.
The latest emissions projections indicate that Ireland could exceed its cumulative annual greenhouse gas emissions ceilings for the 2021 to 2030 period under the EU Effort Sharing Regulation, by between 59 and 75 million tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent under different scenarios of policy implementation and assuming full utilisation of the Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry mitigation option.