Government approves landmark Climate Bill putting Ireland on the path to net-zero emissions by 2050

Government approves landmark Climate Bill putting Ireland on the path to net-zero emissions by 2050

The Government has approved the final text of legislation to set Ireland on the path to net-zero emissions no later than 2050, and a 51% reduction in emissions by the end of this decade.

The Bill will also provide the framework for Ireland to meet its international and EU climate commitments and to become a leader rather than a laggard in addressing climate change.

The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill, which is a key commitment in the Programme for Government, will now progress through the Houses of the Oireachtas as priority legislation.

Here are the key highlights of the bill:

  • The final version of the Climate Bill embeds the process of setting binding and ambitious emissions-reductions targets in law.
  • The Bill provides for a national climate objective, which commits to pursue and achieve no later than 2050, the transition to a climate resilient, biodiversity-rich, environmentally-sustainable and climate-neutral economy.
  • The Bill provides that the first two five-year carbon budgets proposed by the Climate Change Advisory Council should equate to a total reduction of 51% over the period to 2030, relative to a baseline of 2018
  • The role of the Climate Change Advisory Council has been strengthened, enabling it to propose carbon budgets to the Minister which match our ambition and international obligations.
  • The government must adopt carbon budgets that are consistent with the Paris agreement and other international obligations. All forms of greenhouse gas emissions including biogenic methane will be included in the carbon budgets. However, it is up to the government to decide on the trajectories for different sectors..
  • The Government will determine, following consultation, how to apply the carbon budget across the relevant sectors, and what each sector will contribute in a given five-year period.
  • Actions for each sector will be detailed in the Climate Action Plan which must be updated annually.
  • Government Ministers will be responsible for achieving the legally-binding targets for their own sectoral area with each Minister accounting for their performance towards sectoral targets and actions before an Oireachtas Committee each year.
  • Local Authorities must prepare individual Climate Action Plans which will include both mitigation and adaptation measures and will be updated every five years. Local Authority Development Plans must be aligned with their Climate Action Plan.
  • Public Bodies will be obliged to take account of Climate Action Plans in the performance of their functions.

Speaking today, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “This is a landmark day for Ireland. We all know that Climate Change is already happening, and the time to act is now. The bill we are publishing today affirms our ambition to be a global leader in this field. 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. We must continue to act, across Government, as there is no time to waste when it comes to securing our future.”

Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar TD added: "As we emerge from the pandemic, we must ensure that the road to recovery is a sustainable one. I am confident that the decarbonisation of the economy will present significant opportunities for Irish business, for trade and for new employment. Whether that be in the huge expansion of entire industries, such as retrofitting or offshore wind, by becoming an electricity exporter, or new jobs in cleantech, the early movers with the most ambition will see the greatest opportunities.”

Meanwhile, Green Party leader and Minister for the Environment, Climate, and Communications, Eamon Ryan said: “We finally have urgent ambition set in legislation that puts Ireland on the road to net-zero emissions by 2050. We also have a legally-binding framework in place which includes accountability to deliver our target of a 51% reduction over the next decade. It’s time to set out a new Climate Action Plan, to begin the journey to Net Zero, by halving our emissions over the next ten years. In doing so, we can build a cleaner, more sustainable and secure future for us all.”

The preparation of the 2021 Climate Action Plan will involve a major public consultation. The government is inviting people across Ireland to join the Climate Conversation and help chart Ireland’s journey to Net Zero.