I propose to take Questions Nos. 439 and 441 to 443, inclusive, together.
I understand the Deputy is referring to a report prepared by the Internal Audit Unit of my Department entitled ‘Final EU 2020 Climate Targets Monitoring and Reporting Audit.’ The report set out a number of recommendations concerning the reporting of progress against targets within my Department and to the Government.
The Climate Action Plan 2019, published on 17 June 2019, sets out an enhanced set of governance and reporting arrangements, which also closely follow the recommendations of the report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action, published in March 2019. These arrangements include:
· the establishment of a Climate Action Delivery Board within the Department of the Taoiseach to oversee delivery of the Plan
· quarterly reporting to Government on progress against the commitments in the Plan and publication of these reports
· a five year Carbon Budget and sectoral targets with a detailed plan of actions to deliver them
· an independent Climate Action Council to recommend the Carbon Budget and evaluate policy
· strong accountability to an Oireachtas Climate Action Committee
· carbon proofing all Government decisions and major investments
The objective of the ‘Final EU 2020 Climate Targets Monitoring and Reporting Audit' was to assess the adequacy of the arrangements in place for the implementation, monitoring and reporting on each of the three targets covered by the EU 2020 Climate and Energy Package, concerning reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the contribution of energy from renewable sources and improvements in energy efficiency. The report noted that there are established statutory annual reporting arrangements to the European Union in respect of these targets. In the case of greenhouse gas emissions, Ireland also reports annually to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in line with our obligations as a Party to that Convention. The report identified no concerns with respect to Ireland’s reporting to the EU and UN. In respect of renewable energy, this is reported biennially to the European Commission through the National Renewable Energy Action Plan.
The report also noted that, in terms of overall monitoring and reporting of progress, interdepartmental structures and reporting arrangements, including in response to enactment of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015, have been put in place to ensure that the relevant Departments and Ministers are appropriately informed of progress in relation to these various commitments. In addition, the 2015 Act provides for an Annual Transition Statement to be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. This Statement must, inter alia, include information in Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions and compliance with obligations of the State under EU law and relevant international agreements.
The report found that, while there is no fixed reporting frequency nor is there any specific requirement to inform Government of the latest position on targets, in practice, the Minister will take the opportunity to set out the latest position in relation to Ireland’s targets on an on-going basis, including via relevant Memoranda for Government.