I welcome the initiative of the Oireachtas to hold the Youth Assembly on 15 November. It is heartening to see the active engagement and mobilisation to the climate crisis which is, without doubt, the defining challenge of our generation. I thank the members of the Youth Assembly for their recommendations for action to stop climate breakdown which I am currently considering.
In relation to the recommendation to implement a tiered tax system on large companies, 104 installations are currently included the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) in Ireland. The EU ETS is a cornerstone of the European Union's policy to combat climate change and its key tool for reducing industrial greenhouse gas emissions cost-effectively. It is the biggest international system for trading greenhouse gas emission allowances and covers more than 11,000 power stations and industrial plants in 31 countries, as well as airlines. In addition, to the 104 stationary installations, 13 aircraft operators are also included under the scheme in Ireland.
The Government supports a strong EU ETS that promotes investment in decarbonisation in the power generation and industrial sectors in support of EU and Member States’ long-term decarbonisation objectives. Reforms to the ETS were introduced in 2018 in order to achieve a 43% reduction in ETS emissions by 2030 relative to 2005 levels. These reforms, including changes to the market stability reserve to address the prevailing surplus of allowances within the ETS, and improvements in the resilience of the ETS to major price shocks by provisions for periodic adjustments to the supply of allowances to be auctioned, are beginning to take effect. The reforms are already having an impact on the price of ETS allowances, with market prices currently in the region of €25 per tonne, up from just under €8 per tonne in January 2018.
In parallel with the strengthened EU ETS regime at EU level, the Climate Action Plan sets out a number of supplementary measures to reduce emissions from the sectors covered by the EU ETS in Ireland, including:
- delivering an early and complete phase-out of coal and peat fired electricity generation;
- increasing electricity generated from renewable source to 70%;
- working with the enterprise sector to support delivery of identified potential for cost-effective mitigation over the next decade.