Meeting Ireland's EU targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and 2030 will be extremely challenging. The latest projections for greenhouse gas emissions, published by the EPA this morning, indicate that emissions from those sectors of the economy covered by Ireland's 2020 targets could be between 0% and 1% below 2005 levels by 2020 in the context of a target that they should be 20% below their 2005 levels. While this is deeply disappointing, it is not surprising, given the recent pace of economic growth and the consequent increases in emissions from the agriculture and transport sectors, in particular. The projected shortfall in our targets is further exacerbated by the constrained investment capacity in the past decade due to the economic crisis.
For 2030, the recently agreed EU effort sharing regulation sets out binding annual greenhouse gas emission targets for each member state for the period 2021 to 2030. Ireland’s target under the regulation will be a 30% reduction in 2005 levels of emissions by 2030. That is where must focus our efforts to ensure that at the absolute minimum we meet our 2030 target.
To meet these targets, I published Ireland's first statutory national mitigation plan. It provides a framework to guide investment decisions by the Government in domestic measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The purpose of the plan is to specify the policy measures required to manage Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions at a level appropriate to making progress towards our long-term national transition objective as set out in the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015, as well as to take into account existing EU and international obligations on the State in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The plan very explicitly defined the scale of the challenge facing Ireland in decarbonising and declared itself to be a first step and not a complete roadmap to achieve the national transition objective to 2050; rather, it began the process of development of medium-term to long-term options to ensure we would be well positioned to take the necessary actions in the next and future decades. The plan is a living document which is being implemented and updated on an ongoing basis. In that sense, the issue of replacing it does not arise, although I will shortly publish an update on climate mitigation policy to coincide with the Empowering Communities for Climate Action event on 20 June which will reflect the significant policy developments since the national mitigation plan was published, in particular with the publication of the national development plan.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House.
Building on the national mitigation plan, the publication in February of the national development plan will lead to a significant step change in funding available for climate action in the next decade. Reflecting the strong commitment of the Government on this issue, almost €22 billion will be directed, between Exchequer and non-Exchequer resources, to addressing the transition to a low-carbon and climate resilient society. In addition, the national development plan allocated a further €8.6 billion for investments in sustainable mobility. This means that well over €1 in every €5 spent under the national development plan will be on climate mitigation and this capital investment will enable us to deliver a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the period to 2030.
The key investment priorities in the national development plan that my Department will take forward include energy efficiency upgrades of 45,000 homes per annum from 2021 and providing support for a major roll-out of heat pump technologies; delivering energy upgrades to BER 'B' level in all public buildings and a minimum of one third of commercial buildings; implementing the new renewable electricity support scheme to deliver an additional 3,000-4,500 MW of renewable energy, with the initial focus on shovel ready projects which could contribute to meeting our 2020 targets; the roll-out of the support scheme for renewable heat and national smart metering programme; transitioning the Moneypoint plant away from coal by the middle of the next decade; having at least 500,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2030 with additional charging infrastructure to cater for planned growth; and a €500 million climate action fund, which I announced yesterday, to leverage investment by public and private bodies in climate action measures.
Both the national mitigation plan and the national development plan explicitly recognise that the reliance solely on Exchequer expenditure schemes is neither affordable nor adequate to meet the scale of the challenge to be addressed and climate mitigation action will require a targeted balance between Exchequer-supported expenditure, taxation measures, regulation and behavioural change. In certain cases, taxation policy may have a stronger role to play in changing individual or business behaviour and investment decisions, including harnessing non-Exchequer finance.
Carbon tax, in particular, has a critical role in climate mitigation policy and the national mitigation plan commits the Department of Finance to completing a review in 2018, with a view to setting a long-term trajectory for the evolution of this tax. Clear long-term signalling by the Government on the future evolution of the tax is vital, as well as an examination of what other changes to the taxation regime could be considered that would assist with the achievement of climate targets. The low emission vehicle task force is bringing forward proposals in that regard.
As regards significant regulatory change, the national development plan commits the Government to no new non-zero emission cars to be sold in Ireland post-2030, with no NCT certificates to be issued for non-zero emission cars post-2045. There is also to be a transition to a low emission urban bus fleet, including electric buses, with no diesel-only buses purchased from 1 July 2019.
In terms of ongoing climate mitigation policy development, the European Union requires that we produce a draft national energy and climate plan by the end of 2018, with the final plan to be developed by the end of 2019. This represents a further opportunity to build on the national mitigation plan and the national development plan to ensure Ireland moves to a pathway of long-term decarbonisation. I am required, under the 2015 Act, to bring forward a new national mitigation plan at least once every five years. The latest date by which this must happen is, therefore, July 2022.