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Tuesday, 14 Dec 2021

Written Answers Nos. 130-155

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Question No. 131 answered with Question No. 130.

Question No. 132 answered with Question No. 130.

Questions (130, 131, 132)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

130. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the expected emissions reductions by 2030 from the Government’s plan to deliver the equivalent of 500,000 homes retrofitted to a BER of B2 cost optimal or carbon equivalent and to install 600,000 heat pumps in residential buildings in tabular form. [61523/21]

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Darren O'Rourke

Question:

131. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the expected emissions reduction from the National Retrofit Plan by 2030. [61524/21]

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Darren O'Rourke

Question:

132. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the expected emissions reduction from the National Retrofit Plan and the annual breakdown in tabular form. [61525/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 130 to 132, inclusive, together.

The 2021 Climate Action Plan (CAP 2021) committed to reducing emissions from the residential and commercial buildings sectors to between 3.5 - 4.5 Mt CO2eq. by 2030, from 7.9 Mt in 2018. CAP 2021 did not, however, include either cumulative or annual emissions savings on the specific contribution of the Plan’s retrofit or heat pump deployment targets.

CAP 2021 also set out an ambitious National Retrofit Plan detailing how the targets to retrofit 500,000 dwellings and to deploy 600,000 heat pump installations would be met. CAP 2021 also included the following key commitments for the residential and commercial buildings sectors:

- Strengthening the existing NZEB requirements for new dwellings to effectively ban fossil fuels in new dwellings;

- Ramp-up of zero emissions heat in commercial buildings; and

- Increased targets for the roll-out of district heating.

Aside from reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, residential retrofit brings additional benefits, including reduced energy costs, improved comfort and health, less dependency on fossil fuels, and improvements in indoor and outdoor air quality.

The National Retrofit Plan estimates that, between 2019 and 2025, almost 185,000 home energy upgrades will be delivered with over 83,000 to a B2/cost optimal level. When the emissions savings from the non-B2 upgrades are included, this is the equivalent of 120,000 B2 upgrades over the period. As a result, there will a need to deliver, on average, approximately 75,000 B2-equivalent home upgrades per year from 2026 to 2030 to achieve the overall target of 500,000 by 2030.

Question No. 131 answered with Question No. 130.
Question No. 132 answered with Question No. 130.

Departmental Programmes

Question No. 134 answered with Question No. 83.

Question No. 135 answered with Question No. 51.

Questions (133)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

133. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the amount of the Energy Transformation Programme that was allocated to decarbonising electricity in Budget 2021 and 2022, respectively; and the breakdown across each programme subhead by current and capital funding in tabular form. [61526/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Current and Capital allocations to the Energy Transformation Programme in Budgets 2021 and 2022 are shown below:

2021

2022

Programme (€m)

Current

Capital

Total

Current

Capital

Total

B - ENERGY TRANSFORMATION

44

270

314

51

318

368

The 2022 allocation which represents a 17% increase for my Department over 2021 includes €10 million from the Exchequer to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) solar PV grant scheme. This is an increase on the €8 million capital allocation for 2021.

Budget 2022 also commits €202 million from carbon tax revenues to fund the SEAI residential and community retrofit schemes, and an allocation of €31 million for energy efficiency and renewable energy schemes in businesses and the public sector. Decarbonisation of electricity is achieved by the inclusion of solar PV as one of a range of measures supported under these schemes.

The detailed current and capital allocations in 2022 are being finalised as part of my Department's annual business planning process. The final Programme allocations will be included in the Revised Estimates Volume to be published later this month.

It is worth noting however that decarbonisation of electricity is not only funded through my Department's Vote. This year, the PSO levy is entirely related to renewable electricity supports, including the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS), to support our national energy policy objectives. The RESS is the Government’s flagship programme to deliver on our renewable electricity targets by providing support to renewable electricity projects through competitive auctions. The RESS will be the main measure in achieving our Climate Action Plan 2021 target of reducing emissions for the electricity sector to between 2 and 4 MtCO2eq by 2030.

Question No. 134 answered with Question No. 83.
Question No. 135 answered with Question No. 51.

Environmental Policy

Question No. 137 answered with Question No. 136.

Questions (136, 137)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

136. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the measures that will be taken to achieve the targets agreed at the COP 26 United Nations Climate Change Conference. [54701/21]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

137. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the steps Ireland will take to achieve the targets agreed at the COP 26 United Nations Climate Change Conference. [54702/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 136 and 137 together.

The ‘Glasgow Climate Pact’, while reflecting a compromise of positions and adopted by consensus of all Parties concerned, keeps alive the ambition of restricting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. It strikes a balance between increasing climate ambition, delivering on calls for increased climate finance and adaptation supports, and concrete actions to take forward in each of these areas. Focus must now turn to delivering on these commitments.In this regard, I welcome the work programme adopted in the COP26 Decision aimed to cut emissions in this decade. International cooperation is essential to effective climate action. Ireland will continue to work alongside our EU colleagues and with all Parties to accelerate climate action and ambition to deliver on the goals of the Paris Agreement.

In Ireland, we are already taking decisive action. The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021 commits Ireland to achieve a climate neutral economy by no later than 2050, and provides for a 51% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 2018 levels. The Act significantly strengthens the overarching climate governance framework and embeds a process of carbon budgeting, including sectoral emissions ceilings. Establishing these requirements in legislation places a clear obligation on this and future governments for sustained climate action. The recently published Climate Action Plan 2021 provides a detailed roadmap for meeting our climate ambition under the Act and sets out indicative ranges of emissions reductions for each sector of the economy. These ranges will become specific ceilings in the Climate Action Plan 2022, following the legal adoption of carbon budgets and sectoral emissions ceilings.

Together these initiatives will ensure we deliver on our national commitment to achieve the targets agreed at COP 26.

Question No. 137 answered with Question No. 136.

Commissions of Investigation

Questions (138)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

138. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the number of commissions of investigation currently ongoing under the remit of his Department; the duration of each commission of investigation; the deadline for each commission of investigation; and the actual and projected cost of each commission of investigation. [54098/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

There are no Commissions of Investigation ongoing under the remit of my Department.

Climate Change Policy

Questions (139)

Marc Ó Cathasaigh

Question:

139. Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications his plans to develop clear pathways for the latest research to provide an evidence base for the National Dialogue on Climate Action and the Interdepartmental Working Group in order to drive sectoral demand shifts, behavioural change and policy input as outlined in the Climate Action Plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [58649/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The role of National Dialogue on Climate Action (NDCA) is to engage, enable and empower everyone in society to transition to a climate neutral economy in a way that is fair, just, and accessible.

The delivery of the objectives of the NDCA will be measured through qualitative and quantitative research. The NDCA work programme annual cycle will be implemented in a manner that facilitates the analysis of insights gained from research and from engagement activity. These insights will constitute an evidence base to inform the NDCA, sectoral plans, and the Climate Action Plan. To facilitate this, a behavioural study will be carried out every two years, together with ad-hoc qualitative research. A national climate change behavioural insights and implementation unit has been established in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and a national social and behavioural advisory group on climate action will also be established.

In this regard, my Department has provided funding for the EPA’s “Climate Change in the Irish Mind” project, the first report of which was launched last week. This project is a baseline study of climate change beliefs, policy preferences and behaviour of the Irish public to climate change, and is based on a survey of more than 4,000 Irish people during the summer of 2021 conducted by Behaviours and Attitudes.

Key findings of the research are:

- Irish people are in almost full agreement that climate change is happening and 85% are worried about it.

- 91% of people say climate change is important to them personally, and 79% say climate change should be either a “very high” or “high” priority for the Government of Ireland.

- Irish people strongly support a range of policies to address climate change. People also think that climate action will increase jobs, economic growth and quality of life (78%).

This, as part of the wider research programme, will provide valuable insights to inform the development of policies, measures and actions that will support people in order to drive necessary sectoral demand shifts and behavioural change .

Research and Development

Question No. 141 answered with Question No. 83.

Questions (140)

Marc Ó Cathasaigh

Question:

140. Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications his plans to help support the offshore and ocean energy research and innovation as outlined in the Climate Action Plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [58650/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

My Department, through SEAI, has supported the development of ocean technologies for 10 years, investing approximately €20 million. Since 2019, ocean and offshore energy research and innovation has been funded through SEAI’s RD&D programme.

SEAI has developed and funds test and demonstration facilities for ocean energy technologies in Ireland. The LiR National Ocean Test Facility, based in Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork consists of state-of-the-art wave tanks and electrical rigs that allow for scaled testing in a controlled environment.

The Marine Institute is collaborating with SEAI, MaREI (UCC) and Bluewise Marine to develop a national test and demonstration facility in north Galway Bay, near Spiddal. This ocean energy test site is for marine energy and technology. The Atlantic Marine Energy Test Site (AMETS) is being developed by the SEAI to facilitate testing of full-scale wave energy converters in an open ocean environment. AMETS will be located off Annagh Head, in County Mayo and will be connected to the national grid. SEAI runs the Ocean Energy Ireland Portal, which offers a guide to marine renewable energy development in Ireland. SEAI is also part of a pan-European research consortium, funded by EU Interreg, focused on Ocean Power Innovation Network (OPIN).

To deliver on the Climate Action Plan, the SEAI is commencing the preparation of an offshore/ocean roadmap to support the development and rollout of the technologies. The roadmap will outline targets, develop pathways and establish timelines for the deployment of the technologies. It will highlight key decision points, identify enablers and establish owners of each task.

Question No. 141 answered with Question No. 83.

National Broadband Plan

Question No. 143 answered with Question No. 83.

Question No. 144 answered with Question No. 81.

Question No. 145 answered with Question No. 81.

Questions (142)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

142. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the number of instances in which the State has relied on legal enforcement of the National Broadband Plan contract since it was signed to date. [61576/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

To protect the State investment and ensure that the NBP milestones and deliverables are met, the NBP contract has been designed to include extensive protections, quality checks, reporting and monitoring obligations. The Department, as the contracting authority, manages all of the elements of contract governance. The Department has a core existing team, which is augmented by specialist external services to effectively manage the contract. These include technical, commercial advisory, business process and legal services. A governance structure has been established within the Department to monitor contract compliance and a suite of processes have been developed to manage the contract. These include the active monitoring and tracking of compliance on an ongoing basis. To date, no circumstances have arisen that required recourse to legal enforcement measures.

Question No. 143 answered with Question No. 83.
Question No. 144 answered with Question No. 81.
Question No. 145 answered with Question No. 81.

Planning Issues

Questions (146)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

146. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the costs pertaining to his Department and An Bord Pleanála and the Department’s agencies in respect of all appeal and judicial review applications instituted against his Department and or An Bord Pleanála by case in each of the years since January 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61742/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Office of the Chief State Solicitor provide representation to the Minister in respect cases before the courts. The costs of such representation are discharged by the Office of the Chief State Solicitor. Third party costs orders against the Minister are, subject to assessment or as the case may be, adjudication, discharged by the Minister. In this respect, there have been no third-party legal costs paid directly by my Department as a result of appeals and judicial reviews as referenced in Deputy's question from decisions made by An Board Pleanala.

An Bord Pleanála is an independent statutory body which does not come under the remit of my Department.

The information requested in relation to the agencies under the aegis of my Department is an operational matter for each agency.  The Department will request the relevant bodies to reply directly to the Deputy with the information requested in respect of their organisations.

Departmental Schemes

Questions (147, 174)

Neasa Hourigan

Question:

147. Deputy Neasa Hourigan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if he plans to offer zero-interest green loans to homeowners and renters to retrofit their residences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61828/21]

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Sorca Clarke

Question:

174. Deputy Sorca Clarke asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if the low-cost loan scheme for retrofitting residential homes is open for applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61978/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 147 and 174 together.

The Climate Action Plan and National Retrofit Plan have set ambitious targets to retrofit 500,000 homes to a Building Energy Rating of B2 or carbon equivalent and to install 400,000 heat pumps in existing buildings by the end of 2030.My Department is engaging with the Department of Finance, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland and the European Investment Bank in relation to the development of a residential retrofit loan guarantee scheme, which will be one of a range of measures to help achieve the retrofit targets.

The residential retrofit loan guarantee scheme has been selected for inclusion in Ireland’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan and will be co-funded by the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility and Exchequer funding. The target for introduction of the scheme is mid-2022.

The loan guarantee will provide risk protection to retail credit institutions participating in the scheme. Zero interest rate loans are not envisaged under the scheme. However, the loan guarantee will enable credit institutions to offer loans with reduced interest rates to private homeowners and non-corporate landlords and make comprehensive home energy efficiency upgrades more affordable to consumers. This approach will signal to the banking sector new, sustainable business opportunities associated with retrofit and the transition to a low carbon economy as well as increasing the volume of retrofit activity within the State.

Departmental Schemes

Questions (148)

Niall Collins

Question:

148. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if there are grants available for the purchase of a generator (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61855/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

While it is a rare event, some electricity consumers can be without power from time to time. This can occur due to weather related events, such as the recent Storm Barra, network faults and network maintenance.

It is also possible that some consumers could be without electricity due to insufficient generation to meet demand. However, it should be noted that there have been no instances of this in recent times and procedures are in place to ensure that, if such an event were to happen, larger consumers would be requested to reduce their electricity use before homes and small business would be impacted.

While my Department does not offer grants for the purchase of generators, ESB Networks has a policy to support vulnerable customers particularly those who are more vulnerable to loss of electricity supply. Electricity customers can register as vulnerable customers via their electricity supplier and further details are available on the ESB Networks website at the following link: www.esbnetworks.ie/docs/default-source/publications/vulnerable-customer-policy.pdf

Departmental Schemes

Questions (149, 171)

Denis Naughten

Question:

149. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the total spend by the SEAI on the retrofitting and renovation of housing in each of the years 2018, 2019 and 2020; the share of that total spend that is attributable to labour costs; the average spend per unit of housing in each of the years 2018, 2019 and 2020; the share of that spend that is attributable to labour costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61876/21]

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Denis Naughten

Question:

171. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the number of homes that will be retrofitted in 2022; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61966/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Question Nos 149 and 171 together.

The National Retrofit Plan, published last month as part of the Climate Action Plan, set ambitious targets to retrofit 500,000 homes to a Building Energy Rating of B2 or carbon equivalent and to install 400,000 heat pumps in existing buildings by the end of 2030. These targets represent a very significant increase in both the volume and depth of retrofit activity in Ireland.

COVID-19 related restrictions on construction activity in the residential sector between January and April have had a significant impact on activity this year. The SEAI estimates that approximately 16,000 retrofits will be supported by SEAI in 2021. Of this number 2,350 will be energy poverty retrofits and 4,700 will be B2 retrofits. To the end of October, 11,418 retrofits had been delivered, including 3,103 B2 retrofits and 1,625 energy poverty homes.

Budget 2022 commits €202 million in carbon tax revenue to fund the SEAI residential and community retrofit schemes and a further €10 million from the Exchequer for the Solar PV scheme. This investment will support over 22,000 home energy upgrades, including over 6,000 homes to a Building Energy Rating (BER) of B2 and over 4,500 upgrades under the SEAI energy poverty schemes. It will deliver warmer, healthier and more comfortable homes with lower energy bills. It will also reduce emissions from the residential sector and improve air quality.

The detailed current and capital allocations for 2022 are being finalised as part of my Department's annual business planning process. The final Programme allocations will be included in the Revised Estimates Volume to be published later this month. These will be reflected in the SEAI business planning process.

The Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage will invest a further €85m as part of the Local Authority Retrofit Programme in 2022. This will deliver approximately 2,400 B2 / cost optimal retrofits next year.

The total spend that is attributable to labour costs and the average spend per unit of housing is not readily available. However, retrofitting homes is highly labour-intensive and creates quality sustainable jobs in local communities throughout the country, it is estimated that up to 60% of total retrofit cost can be labour. The request for detailed information has been sent to the SEAI and available data will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible upon receipt.

The SEAI's total spend and no. of homes completed on retrofitting schemes* for 2018 - 2020 were:

- 2018 €91.5m 21,478

- 2019 €104.1m 24,742

- 2020** €78.25m 17,671 *Includes Better Energy Homes, Better Energy Warmer Homes, Warmth & Wellbeing, Deep Retrofit, Communities Energy Grants, Solar P.V and Better Energy Finance schemes.

** In 2020, in line with public health and Government guidelines in place to stop the spread of COVID-19, all works under SEAI funded schemes were advised to pause for a period of time.

Seirbhísí Dátheangacha

Questions (150)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

150. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Comhshaoil, Aeráide agus Cumarsáide an bhfuil sé i gceist aige reachtaíocht a thabhairt isteach a chuirfeadh iachall ar An Post a chinntiú go mbeadh gach stampa a d’eiseofaí ar a laghadh dhátheangach agus an oiread céanna Gaeilge agus Béarla, nó Gaeilge amháin, orthu, ag tógáil san áireamh gurb í an Ghaeilge an teanga náisiúnta; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [61925/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Tagann an Coiste Comhairleach Stampshanais, Coiste neamhspleách ar a bhfuil gairmeoirí atá ina saineolaithe ina réimsí agus a cuireadh ar bun le comhairle a thabhairt maidir leis an ábhar do gach clár bliantúil stampaí, le chéile uair nó dhó sa bhliain chun ábhair a mholadh do An Post le cur san áireamh i gclár bliantúil stampaí An Post.

Cé nach bhfuil aon phleananna agam reachtaíocht a thabhairt isteach sa réimse seo ag an am seo, tá an t-ábhar a luadh curtha faoi bhráid An Post agam agus tá iarrtha agam orthu an togra a d’ardaigh an Teachta a bhreithniú agus an tsaincheist shonrach a ardaíodh a chur ar shúile an Choiste.

National Broadband Plan

Questions (151, 159, 161)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

151. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the progress in the development of high speed, high quality broadband in all areas throughout the country, urban and or rural; if he has proposals to accelerate the programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61936/21]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

159. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications when it might be determined that the National Broadband Plan will be developed to the extent anticipated at this stage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61947/21]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

161. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the parts of the country that have yet to gain access to modern, updated broadband service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61949/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 151, 159 and 161 together.

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) State led Intervention will be delivered by National Broadband Ireland (NBI) under a contract to roll out a high speed and future proofed broadband network within the Intervention Area which covers 1.1 million people living and working in the over 554,000 premises, including almost 100,000 businesses and farms along with some 679 schools.

I appreciate people's frustration when they are living so close to a fibre network but cannot get a connection to that network, particularly given the heightened importance of connectivity during the Covid-19 pandemic. The NBP will ensure that in all such cases a future proofed high speed broadband network will be built to serve these premises and work to deliver on this is underway.

Despite the unprecedented challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, NBI has made steady progress on delivery of the new high speed fibre broadband network under the National Broadband Plan with almost 35,000 premises available to order and pre-order across 13 counties (Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Galway, Kerry, Limerick, Louth, Monaghan, Roscommon, Tipperary, Wexford and Wicklow). NBI has advised that over 282,000 premises in the Intervention Area across all counties have been surveyed and build work is underway for more than 120,000 premises, demonstrating the project is reaching scale.

In addition to the challenges to the delivery of the NBP due to the Covid-19 pandemic, NBI has faced a range of other challenges due to the sheer scale and complexity of rolling out fibre to the home in a rural environment. These include significant tree trimming to ensure cable can be placed on overhead poles, remediation of ducting that has been in place for many decades, the co-ordination of hundreds of contracting crews and addressing the many issues arising week on week which could not have been foreseen until the build crews commenced work on the ground. My Department has worked closely with NBI to put in place a remedial plan under the Contract.

NBI has implemented a number of measures to help lessen the impact that these challenges have had on the rollout including:-

- Increasing the rate of pole replacement and duct remediation per month;

- Bringing in additional NBI resources;

- Earlier procurement of material used in the build stages; and

- Bringing in additional subcontractors

The focus for 2022 is to continue to deliver momentum in the build programme, catch up on the delays experienced and plan for acceleration. Final targets for 2022 are expected to be agreed early in the new year.

Environmental Policy

Questions (152)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

152. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the degree to which he continues to propose and pursue eco-friendly policies with a positive impact on the environment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61940/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

My Department leads on a range of cross-cutting policies which have a positive impact on the environment. Following on from the enactment of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act in July, I recently published the Climate Action Plan 2021 which sets out how Ireland will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 51% by 2030 relative to 2018, and puts us on a pathway to achieving climate neutrality no later than 2050.

My Department is also currently preparing a Whole-of-Government Circular Economy Strategy which will set out policies, measures and actions to support moving away from today's 'take-make-waste' model of production to more sustainable production and consumption, which will support climate mitigation - an OECD study of four countries' greenhouse gas emissions found that emissions from materials management accounted for between 55% and 65% of national emissions.

I am also finalising a new Clean Air Strategy, and developing a comprehensive regime for the regulation of domestic solid fuels. The Strategy will outline how we will enhance and protect the quality of the air we breathe and realise the full environmental and health benefits of cleaner air. It will set out a pathway, based on a comprehensive cross-Government programme of policies and measures, that will tackle all sources of air pollution, including those from transport, agriculture, and the commercial and residential sectors.

In addition, my Department is active in setting policies and standards for radiation and noise, and is responsible for the environmental aspects of policy on soils, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and chemicals. The Department also funds the work of the Environmental Protection Agency which is responsible for protecting and improving the environment as a valuable asset for the people of Ireland.

Climate Change Policy

Questions (153)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

153. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the extent to which he expects to meet carbon reduction targets without impacting on the food production sector given the likelihood of a strained food supply chain in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61941/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021 commits Ireland to a legally binding target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050, and a reduction of 51% by 2030.

In order to deliver upon this ambition, the Government published Climate Action Plan 2021 in November 2021, which will put Ireland on a more sustainable path, cutting emissions, creating a cleaner, greener economy and society, and protecting us from the devastating consequences of climate change. The Plan sets out indicative ranges of emissions reductions for each sector of the economy based on their respective starting points, and the relative difficulty, cost, speed, and benefits, of reducing emissions. The ranges will be converted to legally binding specific sectoral ceilings following the adoption of economy-wide carbon budgets by Government and the Oireachtas in early 2022. The Plan also sets out the actions needed to deliver on our climate targets, across all economic sectors, including the agriculture sector.

In the agriculture sector, we must focus on a number of key areas. We must support and help our farmers to continue to roll out improvements in our farming practices. This is appropriate from both a consumer point of view, and from a financial perspective, as higher efficiencies often mean less costs. It is important Ireland maintains our reputation for producing high quality and sustainably produced food.

We also need to create a policy framework to enable farmers to make choices to avail of new business diversification opportunities, in areas such as forestry, the bioeconomy and organic farming.

In addition, we need to focus on gathering an evidence base to support policy design in the area of land use. Ireland is currently a net emitter of emissions from our lands. We need to reverse that trend and reward farmers for doing so. As well as developing the next Climate Action Plan, my Department together with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine are evaluating the potential climate contributions from land-use improvements, to develop a land-use strategy.

With the correct policy choices in the agri-food sector, we can reward farmers for sequestering carbon, restoring biodiversity, producing clean energy and improving water and air quality, while remaining profitable and competitive. This will offer opportunities to innovative enterprises which are sustainable in the long-term for Ireland and its workers.

Climate Change Policy

Questions (154)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

154. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the degree to which he expects to maximise carbon reduction efforts and at the same time ensure that the agri-food sector does not become a victim; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61942/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021 commits Ireland to a legally binding target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050, and a reduction of 51% by 2030.

In order to deliver upon this ambition, the Government recently published the Climate Action Plan 2021. The Plan sets out indicative ranges of emissions reductions for each sector of the economy based on their respective starting points, and the relative difficulty, cost, speed, and benefits, of reducing emissions. The ranges will be converted to legally binding specific sectoral ceilings following the adoption of economy-wide carbon budgets by Government and the Oireachtas in early 2022. The Plan also sets out the actions needed to deliver on our climate targets, across all economic sectors, including the agriculture sector.

In the agriculture sector, we must focus on a number of key areas. We must support and help our farmers to continue to roll out improvements in our farming practices. This is appropriate from both a consumer point of view, and from a financial perspective, as higher efficiencies often mean less costs. It is important Ireland maintains our reputation for producing high quality and sustainably produced food.

We also need to create a policy framework to enable farmers to make choices to avail of new business diversification opportunities, in areas such as forestry, the bioeconomy and organic farming.

In addition, we need to focus on gathering an evidence base to support policy design in the area of land use. Ireland is currently a net emitter of emissions from our lands. We need to reverse that trend and reward farmers for doing so. As well as developing the next Climate Action Plan, my Department together with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine are evaluating the potential climate contributions from land-use improvements, to develop a land-use strategy.

With the correct policy choices in the agri-food sector, we can reward farmers for sequestering carbon, restoring biodiversity, producing clean energy and improving water and air quality, while remaining profitable and competitive.

Climate Change Policy

Questions (155)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

155. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the extent to which his Department’s proposals for carbon reduction here continue to align with the efforts of other European countries both within and without the European Union; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61943/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

International cooperation is essential to effective climate action. Ireland will continue to work alongside our EU colleagues and countries outside the EU to accelerate climate action and ambition to deliver on the goals of the Paris Agreement. The ‘Glasgow Climate Pact’, while reflecting a compromise of positions and adopted by consensus of all Parties concerned, keeps alive the ambition of restricting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. Focus must now turn to ensuring real emission reductions by 2030. In this regard, I welcome the work programme adopted in the COP26 Decision aimed to cut emissions in this decade.

The EU will play its part and aims to be climate-neutral by 2050. This objective is at the heart of the European Green Deal and in line with the EU’s commitment to global climate action under the Paris Agreement. The EU and its Member States, acting jointly, submitted an updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the UNFCCC on 17 December 2020, which confirmed a commitment to a binding target of a net domestic reduction of at least 55% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990. Legislative proposals to implement the new EU 2030 target have been presented by the European Commission in their "Fit for 55" package, and additional effort will be asked of all Member States, including Ireland.

Ireland has welcomed and supports the increased EU ambition. It is consistent with the national approach, as the Government is committed to achieve net zero emissions by no later than 2050 and a 51% emissions reduction by 2030. These commitments have now been given legal force by the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021.

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