The Government is committed to an average 7% per annum reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions from 2021 to 2030, equivalent to a 51% reduction over the decade, and to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest. A key aspect of delivering on this ambition will be enacting the climate action and low carbon development (amendment) Bill, which will underpin our policies.
The Bill will significantly strengthen the statutory framework for climate governance, with appropriate oversight by the Government, the Oireachtas and the Climate Change Advisory Council.
It would introduce new obligations including enacting an objective to achieve a carbon neutral economy by 2050 at the latest and providing for an annual update to the climate action plan and a national long-term climate strategy every five years.
The increased scale and depth of our climate ambition is consistent with the approach being taken at EU level. Both domestically and at the EU, it is recognised that we are not yet in a position to identify all the emerging technologies or policies to meet our full ambition. However, committed research in the area and the continued intensive updating of mitigation measures over the decade, and beyond, will ensure that we remain on course to achieve our climate goals. Investment in research to support Ireland’s efforts to decarbonise and achieve our climate ambition will also be an important element of the national economic plan and is an important commitment in the programme for Government.
While negative emissions technologies will likely be needed to deliver Ireland’s net-zero ambition, the carbon budget structure will serve to determine the scale of negative emissions that may be required to achieve the national climate objective. This will inform investments in such solutions and thereby inform policy responses. In this regard, it will be necessary for Ireland to develop pathways for removals of carbon dioxide related to land use and to protect carbon sinks and stocks.
New strategies will be needed, with additional policy attention across multiple sectors, to sustain an emissions reduction trajectory that will increase over the next decade and beyond. However, the potential for negative emissions technology should not be seen as a means to avoid making the necessary reductions in emissions across the different sectors of the economy.