I thank the Chairman and committee for the invitation. I am new to this job and I am sure many of those here are better informed than I am on some of the challenges but I can report on the blunt message from Katowice this week where I attended the UN climate change conference. It will not come as a surprise to the committee that the themes were stark. One was that the window to act in respect of climate disruption is fast closing and we have a limited time to get our house in order globally if we are to respond. The second point is that, by and large, the technology to deliver the targets being set is there now. It is not a question of inventing new approaches but implementing those technologies and delivering the necessary change. The third point is that the consequences of failure are appalling in terms of the impact on the natural environment, the environment of many countries, migration, and the disruption of economic and social life around the globe, quite apart from the experiences we know about, such as the severe weather events that are in our daily news. It was a blunt message and it puts in context the work the committee is undertaking. It has undertaken this on the back of the Citizens' Assembly and its 17 recommendations. The defining issue of this century is whether we can address this adequately as a nation and as a global community.
The numbers for Ireland are not good. We can see what happened. The benchmark was set in 2005 and, in the early years as the recession took hold, our emissions fell rapidly. By 2011, they were down by 11.4%. They were well on target for a 20% reduction at that stage but since the recovery started, it has become clear that we did not decouple economic recovery from emissions growth. It has grown to the point that, based on forecasts for 2020, the big industry, emission trading scheme, ETS, sector which has a cap and trade model, has done pretty okay. It will be down 37% because we have successfully made many changes in the power sector and others. In the non-ETS sector, however, which has to come down 20% we will be down only 1%. In harsh terms we are 95% off target.
The growth in emissions since 2011 has been led by sectors we all know about: 13% in agriculture and industry, and 7% in transport. The energy, residential and commercial sectors have sustained downward progress in the sum total of their emissions. There are, however, challenges in every sector for which we are responsible. The committee is examining the policy options. I can give it a flavour of these. Our carbon in transport is 1.6 tonnes per head of population, putting us fifth highest in the EU, 90% of our journeys are single passenger and only 16% of houses are either A or B rated. As we go down the ratings the carbon impact escalates dramatically, from 1 tonne per annum for the low-rated ones to 11 tonnes per annum in the poorly-rated ones. Carbon per dwelling is approximately 50% higher in Ireland than in the rest of Europe, which is a challenge.
The national mitigation plan, NMP, was published in July 2017 and was an important first step. It was to set a direction, putting up the signposts for where we are going but did not describe itself as a roadmap. The challenge we now face is to do the more detailed roadmapping and develop the policy tools that will get us there.
The national development plan, NDP, project 2040, is a significant statement because not only does it indicate a commitment to invest €30 billion in climate action and sustainable transport, which is a significant part of the €116 billion in the project, it has set important policy objectives, such as increasing the number of houses whose energy rating is improved to €45,000 per annum, taking Moneypoint out of the system by 2025, increasing our ambitions for renewable energy, getting 500,000 electric vehicles, EVs, onto the road, and establishing the climate fund, the first tranche of which we put out last week. That is a small piece of the jigsaw but, for example, we will create a network of electric vehicle chargers around the country, which will support 40,000 electric vehicles compared with the 7,000 that are there now. No matter what way we cut it, and estimates have been done, which the committee will see in the presentation and the transition statement, the NDP, along with changes in biofuels and some other measures, will take 22 million tonnes out of the target. Even allowing for what we are allowed in the transition, where we can take into account forestry and our better performance in ETS, we still have a long way to go. We have approximately 25 million tonnes for which we do not have policies to deliver the change we need to make.
To meet our targets for 2030, we need to be ambitious in every sector of activity. In transport, we need to be more ambitious regarding EVs; for a modal shift in buildings, about retrofitting, and heating systems; in power, we need to be more ambitious with renewables; in industry with biofuels; in agriculture with farming methods and forestry and so on. Coming from my background, it is important that we do not just set targets but that we develop concrete policy tools and actions that will be delivered against a rigid timescale with people accountable for delivering actions, which will be whole-of-Government endorsed in order that we can ride shotgun on their delivery. I have worked in the education sector and more relevantly on the Action Plan for Jobs where we faced similar challenges. Ambitious delivery was necessary and we needed a whole-of-Government approach.
This will not be resolved by a capital programme alone. It will require every Department, community, individual and enterprise playing a role, but the public sector must accept responsibility in showing leadership in this area, partly because it controls many of the policy tools but also because it must demonstrate it is serious about this.
Regarding the approach I am taking, the committee will probably demand detailed lists which we are only at the early stage of developing. There are six policy headings where I believe step change is achievable. Five of them were outlined in a letter to the committee; one was omitted. I will have to correct the letter to ensure it is not omitted. The six items probably self-recommend.
One is the regulatory framework. Clearly there are major areas of the regulatory framework relating to the foreshore, the mandates given to State companies and the standards set in various codes. That is important.
The second is how we get the adoption of known technologies in all those sectors we know about. The EV is a good example where laying down an infrastructure to deal with range anxiety is an important first step in helping us realise those achievements. In agriculture, members will have seen the work Teagasc has done in identifying changes in agricultural methods that could, if fully implemented, deliver change. Clearly, we have to find a way of implementing some of those changes. With regard to renewables, heat pumps and many areas, the adoption of known technologies is a key challenge.
The third category relates to addressing market failure. Deputy Eamon Ryan has rightly singled out carbon tax as a key area where we need a clear trajectory. The reasons are clear. In producing carbon, we are doing damage to our global environment for which we are not paying. Economists call that an externality. Doing damage but not taking it into account in decision-making makes no sense. We have to find a way of allowing people to take into account the damage they do. From a behavioural point of view, it is important.
For example, each of the 3.2 million vehicles on Irish roads will be replaced before 2030. How do people make their minds up about that decision? If there is no carbon-price trajectory, they will make up their minds on a business-as-usual basis. If there is a carbon-price trajectory, they then factor in what it will cost to run such a vehicle in three, four or ten years. We must encourage people not to lock themselves into high-carbon-use technologies. That is the importance of having a carbon tax trajectory. As the Taoiseach said on a number of occasions in the Chamber, that can be recycled back to people through tax breaks. This is about getting them to change their behaviour and not to collect tax. It is to create the opportunity that people avoid high-carbon activities and do other things. It is not a smash-and-grab.
There are many other areas of market failure, including the circular economy and the concept that we do not take into account the full cost throughout the cycle of product from inception to waste. The other area of market failure clearly is funding. In many cases where we are trying to fund investment, the payback times will be relatively long compared with someone borrowing in the consumer market. They will also not necessarily be secured on an asset. We need to be imaginative on how we will fund that. That covers the market-failure package.
There is also the opportunity side of this. Many Deputies will be aware that while a low-carbon economy can be presented as being all about behavioural change, it is also about great opportunities for people who move first. For those who are leaders and not followers, there are great opportunities to be innovative, create employment and get out there with new technologies. We clearly need a policy to develop that. That is partly about management development. It is also about innovative hubs, supporting activities, and helping people who are being displaced in one sector to find opportunities either by retraining, new research and development and so on. It is an important part of the agenda.
The fifth area is the public sector leading by example. Clearly the public sector is not only an exemplar of good practice, but also a significant player in procurement, with the €116 billion capital programme and how that is shaped and evaluated. When Mr. Robert Watt, the Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, appeared before the committee I believe he signalled that he anticipated a price of carbon from a public expenditure point of view of €100 million in 2030 and €265 million in 2050. That gives a scale of his Department's attitude to how it should be doing the cost-benefit analysis of individual projects that come to it, which ones should get priority and how projects should be framed in their make-up to pass cost-benefit analysis when they come to be delivered. There are many other ways, including the smart infrastructure that we set up, smart metering and so on.
The final area - I do not know how it got dropped out of the letter - is at the heart of this. It is how we engage citizens and communities to come on board the challenge we all share. Some successful initiatives have been sponsored by SEAI. There is increasing emphasis in community involvement in the renewable area. Last week, we had Deputy Stanley's initiative on microgeneration and community. There is also simple information and being able to understand how changes in individuals' lifestyle can make an impact on our performance.
The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment is going through each sector using that framework to identify the areas with the greatest scope for change. Clearly we need to develop the best policies that can be implemented at the least cost. There is no point in expensive measures. We must be conscious that other priorities need to be met in both public expenditure and personal lives. We have to look to the least-cost ways of achieving the targets and we have to be ambitious.
Beyond 2030, we need to start exploring the possibility not just of the 80% reduction in carbon use by 2050, but zero-carbon usage by 2050. That is the message that is coming from Katowice. We need to be even more ambitious than we have been and we are not delivering the targets we set.
I hope that is helpful to the committee. I am keen to work with the committee, which has representation from every party and those of no party. We have some good ideas here to work through. We will work, and we expect to work, to a timeframe after the committee has completed its work. We are targeting producing a cross-government plan by the end of February. Of course, just as the committee is doing, we will also have to work across government with other Departments to sweat the proposals that may emerge and can be included in the plan. There is potential for working together on what is an enormous challenge.
I thank the committee for the opportunity to contribute.