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Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 1 June 2021

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Questions (179)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

179. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the success to date in meeting carbon reduction targets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29799/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The 2009 Effort Sharing Decision 406/2009/EC (ESD) sets annual binding emission reduction targets for EU Member States for the period 2013 to 2020. These targets cover emissions from sectors outside of the EU Emissions Trading System, such as agriculture, transport, buildings and waste. For the year 2020 itself, the target set for Ireland is that emissions should be 20% below their value in 2005.  The Effort Sharing Decision 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. The 2020 greenhouse gas emissions estimates report published by the EPA in January 2021 indicates that emissions from those sectors of the economy covered by the ESD could be 8% below 2005 levels by 2020. According to this report, Ireland will cumulatively exceed the carbon budget implied by our ESD targets by 11 to 12Mt and we will need to avail of flexibilities in order to comply with our obligations. Pre-Covid estimates of the additional costs of purchasing carbon credits for compliance with these targets were in the region of €6 million to €13 million, depending on the price and final quantity of allowances required.

As a follow up to the ESD, the EU Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) sets binding emission reduction targets for Member States for the period 2021-2030. The final agreement sets Ireland a target of 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. It is important to recognise that this target will be amended following the European Commission’s plan to increase ambition from its existing EU wide 2030 target of 40% reduction to at least 55%, compared to 1990 levels. Legislative proposals to implement the new EU 2030 target will be presented by July this year, and additional effort will be asked of all Member States, including Ireland.

As Minister for Climate Action, I will lead on delivering this ambition, which will more than halve our carbon emissions over the course of the decade. With the increased scale and depth of this ambition, new strategies will be needed to sustain a reduction trajectory that will increase over time. I am working with colleagues across Government to develop a new Climate Action Plan, with additional initiatives in every sector to bring about the significant change needed to transform our society. The Climate Action Plan will require annual revisions to address the need for intensive and regular monitoring and updating of policy actions to ensure we remain on track and within our emission limits, and will act as a further review mechanism and opportunity to adjust and refocus actions, as required.

In line with EU ambition, Ireland has committed to achieve an average 7% per annum reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions from 2021 to 2030, and to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest. This objective will be set in law by the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021, which was published on 23 March 2021. The Bill will support Ireland’s transition to net zero and achieve a climate neutral economy by no later than 2050. It will establish a legally binding framework with clear targets and commitments set in law, and ensure the necessary structures and processes are embedded on a statutory basis to ensure we achieve our national, EU and international climate goals and obligations in the near and long term.

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