Thursday, 4 July 2019

Questions (8)

Tony McLoughlin


8. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the role which carbon proofing of policy will play in achieving the national policy objective of carbon neutrality; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28564/19]

View answer

Oral answers (6 contributions) (Question to Communications)

I ask the Minister to explain and make a statement on the role which carbon proofing of policy will play in achieving the national policy objective of carbon neutrality.

Carbon proofing will have a key role to play in the transition to a low-carbon economy and has been recognised by the Climate Change Advisory Council as an important tool for Ireland to achieve its long-term decarbonisation objectives in a cost-effective manner by 2050. As part of project appraisal for all public capital investments, it is essential to avoid expenditure that locks in long-term fossil fuel consumption. To that end, the climate action plan commits to reviewing the Government's public spending code in 2019. This guidance currently includes values for monetising the greenhouse gas emissions associated with Government investment and the plan proposes to significantly strengthen the calculation of a shadow price of carbon, such that proposed Government investments will need to value carbon at a level which will see the shadow price increase to €32 per tonne by 2020, €100 per tonne by 2030 and €265 per tonne by 2050.

The reform of the public spending code will also see a new stage introduced into the project life cycle. The project identification stage will become the first stage of the life cycle with the purpose of ensuring early consideration of approaches to deal with a policy issue ahead of selecting the preferred option and proceeding to the appraisal stage. Climate considerations will be incorporated in this new life cycle stage.

Consistent application of these rules will allow decision-makers to better understand and appreciate the climate consequences of their investment options. Separately, the climate action plan commits the Government to ensuring that all Government memoranda and major investment decisions are subject to a carbon impact and mitigation evaluation, for which a template will be developed. This will be incorporated in Cabinet procedures, in regulatory impact assessments and in project evaluation processes.

What procedures will be put in place to ensure robust oversight by Government of carbon proofing to ensure that we stay on track to achieve a carbon-neutral future?

There are two dimensions to the answer to that question. In terms of staying on track, we are setting up an implementation committee within the Department of the Taoiseach which will be co-chaired by the Secretaries General of that Department and of my Department. That will oversee the roll out and implementation of the action plan. In addition, there will be carbon proofing within the Government process so that each memorandum that comes to Government that would have a carbon impact would be assessed as part of the Government decision on it. We will look to models of best practice in other countries and that will be enshrined in Cabinet procedure.

There will be two processes, one anticipating the new decisions and the other overseeing the actions to which we have committed.

I approve all that the Minister aims to achieve but what is the timeframe for these proposals?

The carbon-proofing of Government memoranda will come in later this year. It will be developed by the Department of the Taoiseach with input from other Departments, particularly the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.