I propose to take Questions Nos. 43 and 46 together.
I published the Government's Climate Action Plan on 17 June. The plan sets out, for the first time, how Ireland can reach its 2030 targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and also put Ireland on the right trajectory towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. We have a great window of opportunity to reverse this trend and secure a healthy more resilient future for the country, It means changing the way we heat our homes, the way we travel and the way we power the country.
The step-up in ambition in each of the sectors covered by the plan will require investment across the entire economy. Overall, through the mix of technologies and measures identified, the plan sets out the pathway that represents the least-cost burden to the economy as a whole.
A significant portion of the technologies and measures set out in the plan will result also in net lifetime cost savings to the economy as a whole.
In terms of costs to the Exchequer and other public funding, the plan will be funded through Project Ireland 2040 which provides €30 billion for low carbon and sustainable mobility investments in the period to 2027.
Many of the actions in the plan do not require public funding. The actions contained in this plan fall broadly into four categories:
- public funding provided in the annual estimates process and in Project Ireland 2040
- measures such as setting a long-term trajectory for the carbon tax, in order to change long-term behaviour and decisions to encourage investment in more sustainable choices
- new regulations to end certain practices (e.g. phasing out oil and gas boilers in homes or introducing low emission zones in cities)
- actions to promote public and community engagement and participation in reducing our emissions.
For the first time, a decarbonisation target has been set for each sector. Each Government Department must now determine the optimum approach to utilising the funding available to it to support the policies necessary to meet the targets proposed for each sector. The exact costs will be determined from the detailed policy design work which will consist of a mix of regulations, taxes, and subsidies which the Government may choose to deploy to achieve the target abatement range in each sector.
It should also be noted that there would also be a very significant cost to the Exchequer for not implementing any policies to achieve compliance with our 2030 targets, which would also lock Ireland into a high carbon trajectory that would be unsustainable in the long-run.
Failure to implement these policies to meet our legally binding EU targets could result in a cost to the Exchequer of up to €1.75 billion over the next decade as well as locking Ireland into a future high carbon trajectory.
In relation to the costs of purchasing carbon credits for compliance with Ireland’s emissions targets for the period 2013 to 2020 under the 2009 Effort Sharing Decision 406/2009/EC (ESD), my Department currently estimates the additional costs to be in the region of €6m to €13m, depending on the price and final quantity of allowances required. This is in addition to a total of €120 million that has already been spent as part of Ireland’s strategy to meet its targets under the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (2008-2012), arising from which approximately 5,500,000 carbon credits are currently held by the State, which may be used for ESD compliance.