The recently published UN Emissions Gap Report 2021 includes a chapter examining net-zero emissions targets. The report notes that the increase in net-zero pledges needs to be treated with caution, because as they have become more widely adopted, they have varied in robustness. The UNEP Report states that the scope and convergence of net-zero targets; the existence of implementation plans, transparency and reporting to track progress; the alignment between near-term actions and long-term net zero targets; and the robustness of carbon offsets, are critical to credible net-zero targets. Ireland has introduced its objective to be a climate neutral economy by 2050 in a robust fashion through primary legislation. The commitment has been placed on a statutory footing through the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021.
The Act identifies the specific mechanisms, plans and strategies that will be used by Government to achieve the national climate objective. These are:
- a series of carbon budgets and the associated sectoral emission ceilings;
- annual revisions to the Climate Action Plan;
- a National Long Term Climate Action Strategy; and
- a National Adaptation Framework.
The Act also provides for a set of principles which the Minister and Government will take into account when preparing, approving or adopting any of the statutory plans, strategies and sectoral emission ceilings referred to. This will ensure the transformation to decarbonise our economy is a fair and just transition leaving no one behind.