Climate Action Bill approved with binding carbon emissions targets

23 Mar 2021

Image: © Tom Bayer/Stock.adobe.com

The revised Climate Action Bill sets specific targets including a 51pc reduction in carbon emissions over the next decade.

The Irish Government has approved a revised Climate Action Bill today (23 March), which includes specific, binding targets on reducing carbon emissions.

The new text says Ireland will commit to “pursue and achieve” carbon neutrality by 2050 at the latest and has set out five-year carbon budgets to achieve this target. This is stronger language than in the draft bill from October 2020.

These budgets will be consistent with the Paris Climate Agreement and will also include sectoral limits on how much carbon can be emitted for each industry.

The bill states that the first two of these budgets will equate to a 51pc reduction of emissions on a baseline of 2018.

Speaking on his way into cabinet this morning, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan, TD, said the bill is about showing leadership on climate action and to “not be a laggard as a country”.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin, TD, described this as a “landmark day” for Ireland. “The bill we are publishing today affirms our ambition to be a global leader in this field,” he added.

“As we begin our journey towards net zero emissions, the Government is committed to tackling the challenges, and embracing the opportunities, this transition can bring our economy, our society and our country.

However, opposition TDs have already raised concerns about whether the bill goes far enough. People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith said the bill appears to be a “slap in the face” to environmental campaigners, particularly as it does not include a ban on the arrival of liquid natural gas.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1 this afternoon, Marie Donnelly, chair of the Climate Change Advisory Council, said all sectors will be involved in the process when it comes to reducing emissions. She also said that Ireland is in a different situation to the rest of the EU when it comes to the agriculture sector. “That is an issue that we will take into account,” she said.

Earlier this year, Ryan obtained Cabinet approval to introduce new legislation against oil and gas exploration as part of the Climate Action Bill. “By keeping fossil fuels in the ground, we will incentivise the transition to renewable energy and put ourselves on a pathway to net zero by 2050,” he said at the time.

The Climate Action Bill will now progress through the Oireachtas as priority legislation. A new Climate Action Plan will be published later this year following a public consultation, with more specific actions and more stringent requirements based on the targets in the bill.

Jenny Darmody is the deputy editor of Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com