Thursday, 12 December 2019

Questions (307)

Thomas Pringle


307. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the official or group in his Department responsible for calculating and reporting the obligations of Ireland under the land use, land use change and forestry, LULUCF, regulation, that is, EU Regulation 2018/841; if Ireland will be a net emitter over the period the regulation covers; and the implications of this information for the obligations of Ireland under the effort-sharing regulation and targets for 2030 if the LULUCF flexibilities cannot be used. [52477/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The State’s obligations to report greenhouse gas emissions and greenhouse gas removals in the land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector are set out under Regulation 525/2013, while accounting obligations are set out in Directive 529/2013 up to 2020 and Regulation 2018/841 (“the LULUCF Regulation”) for the period 2021-2030. These relate to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the associated Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) prepares inventories of past, and projections of future, greenhouse gas emissions for Ireland on an annual basis and also reports on Ireland's compliance with its EU climate targets. According to Ireland’s National Inventory Report 2019, Ireland’s LULUCF sector was a net source of emissions in the period 1990-2017. This is largely due to grasslands and wetlands, which are major sources of emissions due to drainage of organic soils. Forest Land and Harvested Wood Products are the main carbon sinks in the LULUCF sector.

The EPA does not publish LULUCF emissions projections in its annual projections report as these sources are not currently in the scope of Ireland’s non-ETS targets for 2020 under the EU Effort Sharing Decision. However, 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.

The Climate Action Plan, published in June, includes 34 individual actions to facilitate the development and implementation of policies to manage emissions and enhance removals from the Agriculture, Forestry and Land Use sectors. These include:

- increasing afforestation rates from their current levels to an average of 8,000 ha per year;

- undertaking further research to assess the potential to sequester, store and reduce emissions of carbon through the management, restoration and rehabilitation of peatlands;

- realising the emissions reduction potential of at least 40,000 ha of grasslands on drained organic soils; and

- creating additional incentives to adopt carbon-positive, post-production management options on Bord na Móna lands, commercial and private peat extraction sites.

The Plan sets out for the first time how Ireland will reach its 2030 targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and put Ireland on the right trajectory towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Plan sets out, in Chapter 3, the expected emissions abatement contribution from existing commitments under Project Ireland 2040 and from LULUCF measures. The Plan includes the necessary targets and measures, supported by detailed actions and roadmaps, to close the identified remaining gap of 58.4 MtCO2eq in the non-ETS sector. The relevant table is reproduced below.

Carbon Budget

Compliance Gap

Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) Ceiling

378.3 Mt


Projected Emissions (Pre-NDP)

479.9 Mt

101.6 Mt

Contribution of Project Ireland 2040 NDP Measures

- 16.4 Mt

85.2 Mt

Contribution of LULUCF

- 26.8 Mt

58.4 Mt

Contribution of Climate Action Plan 2019

- 58.4 Mt

0 Mt