The recently published Climate Action Plan sets out, for the first time, how Ireland can reach its 2030 targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and also puts Ireland on the right trajectory towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Plan confirms that afforestation will have a key role to play in delivering emissions reductions and helping Ireland to achieve its 2030 targets. It commits, under Action 116, to implementing the Forest Programme 2014-2020 in line with the Mid-Term Review recommendations and targets an average annual afforestation rate of 8,000 hectares per annum of newly planted forest, as well as sustainable forest management of existing forests.
Better management of peatlands and soils under Actions 131 to 134 in the Plan will support the protection and enhancement of the carbon sink function of peatland landscapes, including through assessment and implementation mitigation options on post-production, peat extraction sites, and the implementation of measures for peatlands conservation.
To meet the required level of emissions reduction, the Plan sets a target of increasing the share of electricity generated from renewable sources to 70% by 2030, indicatively comprised as follows:
- at least 3.5 GW of offshore renewable energy
- up to 1.5 GW of grid-scale solar energy
- up to 8.2 GW total of increased onshore wind capacity
The Plan includes a number of actions to deliver this target, including regulatory streamlining of renewables and grid development; development of the offshore renewables sector, implementation of the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme; and development of an enabling framework for micro-generation.