Ireland’s draft climate action plan aims to shed country’s bad image

19 Dec 2018

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As part of its agreement with the EU, the Irish Government has published its climate change action plan after being internationally embarrassed.

Following work done by the Citizens’ Assembly and an all-party Oireachtas Committee, the Government has put together a draft plan that it hopes will convince the national public and Europe that it’s finally starting to take climate change seriously.

Under EU law, Ireland was required to produce a draft National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) to chart how the country would grow sustainably in the decades to come. Announced by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Richard Bruton, TD today (19 December), the report centres on a number of different initiatives that the Government aims to focus on including renewable energy, agriculture, transport and construction.

Under the rules, a final NECP will have to be submitted a year from now and, from then on, all EU member states will need to outline their energy and climate policies every year between 2021 and 2030.

More specifically, this includes reducing Ireland’s carbon emissions by 22m metric tonnes and promising to increase our renewable power generation from 30pc nationally to at least 55pc through means such as solar, wind and biomass energy generation. This will also include the removal of peat and coal for electricity generation.

The Government also expects that within this first period of EU monitoring in the coming decade, electric vehicles will make up 20pc of the country’s transport fleet, with between 40pc and 50pc of homes having high energy ratings through new builds and retrofitting.

Draft NECP follows poor climate performance

“Ambition will need to be stepped up in all these areas and many others besides. The analysis in the draft plan demonstrates that policies in place to date will not fully deliver on our emissions commitments, even taking into account flexibilities which have been granted to Ireland which will not be cost free,” Bruton said.

“The draft NECP highlights once again the urgency of the work we are doing in developing our all-of-Government plan to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change. We need to act now, across all sectors of society to step up our response.”

The publishing of the draft plan comes just a few days after Ireland was embarrassed at an international level when it was named as the worst performing nation in Europe in the 2019 Climate Change Performance Index.

“Existing climate mitigation efforts will not enable Ireland to achieve either its EU 2020 or 2030 targets domestically,” the accompanying report stated. “The long-standing lack of implementation of substantive measures to put the country on a well-below 2 degrees Celsius pathway results in a very low rating for Ireland’s national policy performance.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic