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Climate Action Plan to affect every facet of society

The Climate Action Plan identifies how Ireland will achieve its 2030 targets for carbon emissions, and will put us on a trajectory to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The Climate Action Plan will affect every stakeholder in society. With targets to reach and plans outlined, the Climate Action Plan will take a determined approach at ensuring Ireland reaches its 2030 targets.

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20 June 2019 | 0

The government, on Monday, published the Climate Action Plan, led by Minister Richard Bruton, to give Irish people a cleaner, safer, and more sustainable future.

The far-reaching plan sets out over 180 actions, together with hundreds of sub-actions, that need to be taken at a time when the warning signs are growing, and the time for taking action is rapidly reducing.

At a time when we should be radically reducing our reliance on carbon, Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions have been rising rapidly. We are currently 85% dependent on fossil fuels. We have a short window of opportunity to reverse this trend and secure a better, healthier, and more resilient future for the country.

This means changing the way we heat our homes, the way we travel, and the way we power our country. This plan identifies how Ireland will achieve its 2030 targets for carbon emissions, and puts us on a trajectory to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The plan embraces every relevant sector: electricity, enterprise, housing, heating, transport, agriculture, waste, and the public sector.

The aims of the plan are to:

  • Eliminate non-recyclable plastic and impose higher fees on the production of materials which are difficult to recycle, implement measures, to ban single-use plastic plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks, and cotton buds.
  • Establish a new Microgeneration Scheme, allowing homeowners to generate their own electricity and sell what they don’t use back to the national grid.
  • Move to 70% renewable electricity by 2030, currently only 30% of our electricity comes from renewable sources.
  • Bring 950,000 electric vehicles onto our roads, deliver a nationwide charging network, an electric vehicle scrappage scheme, and legislation to ban the sale of petrol/diesel cars from 2030.
  • Expand our network of cycling paths and “Park and Ride” facilities, with the aim of helping to ease congestion.
  • Deliver an intensive programme of retrofitting to install 400,000 heat pumps in homes and businesses, replacing the existing carbon-intensive heating systems.
  • Establish a system of five-year carbon budgets and sector targets, with the relevant Minister responsible for delivering on the target, with penalties if they are not met. These targets will be underpinned by a new Climate Action Act. All major government investments and decisions will be carbon-proofed.
  • Deliver reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture by creating new, sustainable opportunities for family farms.
  • Deliver a new Retrofit Plan to retrofit 500,000 homes, with large groups of houses being retrofitted by the same contractor to reduce costs, smart finance, and easy pay-back methods.
  • Every public body will be given a climate action mandate by their line Minister to prioritise climate action and new letters of expectation will issue to semi-state bodies on climate action.

Failure to implement these policies to meet our legally binding EU targets could result in a cost to the Exchequer of up to €1.75bn over the next decade as well as locking Ireland into a future high carbon trajectory.

Key takeaways: Agriculture

  • Deliver substantial verifiable greenhouse gas abatement through adoption of a specified range of improvements in farming practice.
  • Deliver expansion of forestry planting and soil management to ensure that carbon abatement from land-use is delivered in 2021-30 and in the years beyond.
  • Support diversification within Agriculture and land use to develop sustainable and circular value chains and business models for lower carbon intensity farming including organic production and protection and enhancement of biodiversity and water quality; and the production of bio-based products and bioenergy through the Common Agricultural Policy and implementation of the National Policy Statement on the Bioeconomy.

Key takeaways: Enterprise and Services

  • Embed energy efficiency, replacement of fossil fuels, careful management of materials and waste and carbon abatement across all enterprises and public service bodies.
  • Mobilise clusters regionally and sectorally to become centres of excellence for the adoption of low carbon technologies.
  • Plan for the delivery of quality employment and enterprise in the new areas of opportunity being opened up.

“The greatest responsibility we have is to pass on our planet to the next generation in a better condition than we inherited it. With this Plan we are making changes now, before it is too late, to ensure we do exactly that.”, said Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

Tasoiseach Varadkar continued: “We recognise that Government doesn’t have all the answers. So we will work with people, industry and communities to chart the best and most inclusive way forward. A way forward that is both effective and sensible. One that achieves our targets, and in a way that is thought through and considered, supports employment and living standards and enables a just transition.

“Our approach will be to nudge people and businesses to change behaviour and adapt new technologies through incentives, disincentives, regulations and information. Our objective, as we plan for the future, is to transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient society. This Plan represents the sum of our hopes for the future. Our call to action in the fight to save our planet.”

Commenting on the Climate Action Plan, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed said: “A step-up will be necessary within the sector – that means making changes on each and every one of our 139,000 plus farms. This is not going to be easy. . . change is never easy and some of these measures will take time to deliver. However, it is critical that we take action now, because we have to meet our national obligations, but also because maintaining our green credentials is fundamental to underpinning the competitiveness of our agri-food sector”.

Importantly, the plan is a balanced approach, recognising the importance of supporting global food supply and  the need for a vibrant rural economy but,  importantly, contributing to national emissions reduction targets.

Minister Creed concluded: “These commitments are not without challenge, and require collaboration, co-operation, and collective responsibility to meet them. We do not yet know what science will deliver in the future and we will continue to work with all stakeholders, engaging our farmers, industry, researchers, advisers, civil society, and government to identify technological solutions and new business models to drive innovation to meet this challenge.”

Information on the Climate Action Plan can be accessed here.

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