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Tuesday, 14 Dec 2021

Written Answers Nos. 156-161

Climate Change Policy

Questions (156)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

156. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the extent to which all trees, hedgerows and undergrowth are used in the calculation of Ireland's plan to meet carbon reduction targets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61944/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Greenhouse gas emissions and removals associated with land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) are reported in Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions inventory prepared by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and submitted annually to the EU and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Forestry, croplands, grasslands, wetlands, settlements and other lands are included in the LULUCF category.

Emissions and removals from hedgerows and non-forest woodland/trees, as landscape features within cropland, grassland and other land use categories, form part of the estimates for the LULUCF category.

A challenge for greenhouse gas emissions inventories is the quantification of the carbon in the above and below ground biomass for hedgerows and non-forest woodland/tress. To address the challenge, my Department through the EPA research programme is co-funding (together with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine) project “Farm-Carbon – Farm Hedgerows and Non-forest Woodland Carbon”. An objective of this project is to advance the understanding of the contribution of hedgerows and non-forest woodland to carbon stocks in agricultural landscapes, and to identify approaches to maintain and enhance this contribution.

Climate Change Policy

Questions (157)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

157. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the extent to which sufficient credit is given to the business and farming sector in respect of their efforts to meet carbon reduction targets; if new incentives are under consideration in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61945/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The provision of telecommunication services, including mobile phone and broadband services, is a matter for the relevant service providers operating in a fully liberalised market regulated by the Commission for Communication Regulation (ComReg), as independent Regulator.

Obligations in relation to mobile coverage are set out in licences granted by ComReg to the mobile operators and ComReg advises that the current minimum coverage obligations are being exceeded considerably by all operators. ComReg is currently managing the next spectrum award process for wireless broadband services and commissioned studies and technical reports to inform its approach to the award process and the consideration of appropriate coverage and rollout obligations in that context. These studies are available at www.comreg.ie

In relation to mobile coverage, ComReg has developed a national outdoor coverage map (available at this link), which can help consumers choose the network provider that best meets their needs for where they live, work and travel. ComReg has also published the results of tests carried out on mobile/smartphone handsets currently available in Ireland (available at this link). These findings will further allow consumers to make informed decisions based on the handsets which best address their needs.

Since 2016, the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce has been a driving force for improving access to telecommunications services nationwide. It has completed over 70 targeted actions to alleviate connectivity barriers, and continues to tackle issues impeding the rollout of essential infrastructure. The Taskforce will continue its work in the context of its inclusion in the Programme for Government, in ensuring access to high quality telecommunications connectivity across Ireland to support social and economic development.

Climate Change Policy

Question No. 159 answered with Question No. 151.

Question No. 160 answered with Question No. 158.

Question No. 161 answered with Question No. 151.

Questions (158, 160)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

158. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the extent to which he and his Department remain satisfied regarding the progress towards achieving best practice in terms of provisions made or in course thereof in the context of climate change; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61946/21]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

160. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the degree to which he and his Department continue to examine policies to mitigate the impact of climate change on the economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61948/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 158 and 160 together.

The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021 (the Act), enacted in July 2021, significantly strengthens Ireland's overarching climate governance framework and embeds a process of carbon budgeting, including sectoral emissions ceilings. The plans and strategies established on a statutory footing under the Act will require that policies are put in place to ensure carbon budget ceilings are not breached. Putting these requirements in legislation places a clear obligation on this and future governments for sustained climate action.

The Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC) has recently proposed its initial carbon budget programme comprising three consecutive five-year economy-wide carbon budgets for the periods 2021-2025 and 2026-2030, and a provisional budget for 2031-2035. Not less than 12 months prior to the expiry of each carbon budget the Advisory Council shall prepare and submit to me, or my successor(s), a proposed carbon budget in respect of the period following the third such budget in the carbon budget programme. In this manner, the carbon budget framework will support long-term planning and policy continuity, but similarly ensure that budgets and policies are developed in accordance with the most up-to-date scientific evidence.

The Act explicitly provides for evolution in national climate policy in line with developments in scientific evidence and best practice. When preparing the annual Climate Action Plan and National Long-Term strategy which set out the practical policies and measures that we must implement to achieve our national climate objective, the Minister for Climate Action is required under the Act to account for the relevant scientific or technical advice and any recommendations or advice of the Advisory Council. Furthermore, the Act specifically provides for “the fact that the means of achieving a climate neutral economy and other measures to enable the State to pursue the national climate objective may not yet be fully identified and may evolve over time through innovation, evolving scientific consensus and emerging technologies”.

We have introduced an ambitious and robust best practice climate action framework, which will enable Ireland to continue to develop and implement effective climate action policy, now and into the future, in line with our national climate objective.

Question No. 159 answered with Question No. 151.
Question No. 160 answered with Question No. 158.
Question No. 161 answered with Question No. 151.
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