I refer to the reply to Question No. 67 of 14 February 2018 and to Question No. 24 on today’s Order Paper.
The 2014 National Policy Position on Climate Action and Low Carbon Development sets out an ambitious long-term commitment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in Ireland by at least 80% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2050 across the electricity generation, built environment and transport sectors; and in parallel, to pursue an approach to carbon neutrality in the agriculture and land-use sector, including forestry, which does not compromise capacity for sustainable food production.
Meeting Ireland's EU targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and 2030 will be extremely challenging. The latest projections of greenhouse gas emissions, published by the EPA in April 2017, indicate that emissions from those sectors of the economy covered by Ireland's 2020 targets could be between 4% and 6% below 2005 levels by 2020 against a target that emissions should be 20% below their 2005 levels. The projected shortfall to our targets reflects both the constrained investment capacity over the past decade due to the economic crisis, and the extremely challenging nature of the target itself. In fact, it is now accepted that Ireland’s 2020 target was not consistent with what would be achievable on an EU wide cost-effective basis.
Under the Paris Agreement, the EU has committed, on behalf of its Member States, to a reduction of at least 40% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, to be achieved by reductions in the Emission Trading System (ETS) sector of 43% and in the non-ETS sector of 30%. The recently agreed EU Effort Sharing Regulation sets out binding annual greenhouse gas emission targets in the non-ETS sector for each Member State for the period 2021 to 2030. Ireland’s target under this Regulation will be for a 30% reduction on 2005 levels of emissions by 2030.
To meet these targets, Ireland's first statutory National Mitigation Plan, which I published in July last year, provides a framework to guide investment decisions by Government in domestic measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The purpose of the Plan is to specify the policy measures required in order to manage Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions at a level appropriate for 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 relation to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Although this first Plan does not provide a complete roadmap to achieve the national transition objective to 2050, it begins the process of development of medium- to long-term options to ensure that we are well positioned to take the necessary actions in the next and future decades.
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 over the next decade. 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 NDP allocated a further €8.6 billion for investments in sustainable mobility. This capital investment will enable us to deliver a significant reduction in our greenhouse gas emissions over 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 to 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,
- rollout of the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat and National Smart Metering Programme; and
- transitioning Moneypoint away from coal by the middle of the next decade.