Carbon budgets to be required by law
Decarbonisation targets for each sector
Sale of fossil fuel cars banned by 2030
The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton T.D. today (Monday, 6th of January) published the Draft General Scheme of the Climate Action (Amendment) Bill 2019 and confirmed that it is priority legislation for the Government in the new Dáil term.
The Climate Action Plan, published earlier this year, is the Government's plan to ensure we radically reduce our emissions in every sector to ensure we meet our future climate commitments, putting us on a trajectory to be net zero by 2050.
Minister Bruton said,
"Governance and accountability are at the heart of the Climate Action Plan. We are putting in place the legislative underpinning to ensure the radical step up required is delivered."
The Bill aims to enshrine in law the approach outlined in the Climate Action Plan, including:
· Establishing a 2050 emissions reduction target in law
· Making the adoption of carbon budgets a legal requirement
· Strengthening the role of the Climate Action Council in recommending the appropriate climate budget and policies
· Requiring the Government to set a decarbonisation target range for each sector. The Minister with primary responsibility for each sector will be accountable for delivering the relevant actions to meet the sectoral target and for reporting annually on the delivery of their actions and the achievement of sectoral emission targets
· Giving the Oireachtas a central role in the setting of the carbon budget and overseeing progress to delivery
· Banning the sale of fossil fuel cars by 2030
· Establishing that the Climate Action Plan shall be updated annually, with actions in every sector.
Minister Bruton said,
"We must act now and leave a better, healthier, more sustainable Ireland for future generations. Accountability is the key to making progress. We have a very short time to act. We must put in place a strong framework to ensure every sector, every policy, every decision delivers on the transformation that is required. Today represents a hugely important step in putting in place the necessary arrangements to achieve this objective."
Notes to the Editor
The Minister is continuing to refine some of the measures and approaches set out in the Bill and will work with the All-Party Oireachtas Committee which has played a very valuable role in helping develop the approach outlined in the Climate Action Plan.
Climate Action Council
The 2019 Climate Action Plan commits to establish the Climate Action Council (the Council), which will replace the existing Climate Change Advisory Council. The Plan also describes additional powers which the successor Council will possess, in addition to the existing powers set out under sections 11, 12 and 13 of the 2015 Act.
Head 6 makes provision for the name change while head 7 introduces amendments to effect the following:
- inclusion of a fifth ex-officio ordinary member of the Climate Action Council – the Director of the Irish National Meteorological Service, Met Éireann
- a requirement that in so far as is practicable there will be gender balance on the Council
- that all Council members including the Chairperson will serve a maximum of two terms
- that the Council will benefit from the capacity to retain expertise over time by members serving staggered terms of office
- the Climate Action Council will establish an advisory committee in relation to climate adaptation.
Head 8 provides that the Climate Action Council will be given new functions to provide recommendations to the Minister on the development and adoption of a series of appropriate economy wide carbon budgets (each covering a five year period) as per the requirements of the Climate Action Plan.
Heads 9 and 10 provide for updating and streamlining the performance review responsibilities of the Council with regard to its new function on carbon budgets while also updating requirements for a periodic review.
The Climate Action Plan 2019 indicates that the Bill will introduce the adoption of carbon budgets as a legal requirement. In this regard, the draft General Scheme outlines that the Government will adopt a system of carbon budgets as part of a grouping of three five-year periods calculated on an economy-wide basis, starting with the periods 2021 to 2025, 2026 to 2030, and 2031 to 2035.
Head 12 which deals with the setting of carbon budgets, provides that the Climate Action Council is to advise the Minister on the appropriate three five-year carbon budgets and, based on this advice, the Minister will prepare three five-year carbon budgets for Government approval. These will include the recommended carbon budget permitted in each five-year carbon budget period and a decarbonisation range for each relevant sector for the five-year period within the ceiling of the proposed carbon budgets.
The head further provides that once adopted, the Minister shall propose a motion in the Oireachtas to consider the carbon budget. If the Government's proposed carbon budget is rejected, then the Minister shall present an alternative budget (approved by Government) within a specified time period taking account of any recommendations made by the Oireachtas.
Work is continuing to finalise the government's Long Term Climate Strategy to 2050. A public consultation on the Strategy closed on 31st December and the submissions received are now being reviewed. The long term strategy will set our 2050 climate target, which will then inform the legal provision to be drafted for inclusion in the Climate Action (Amendment) Bill 2019. The Government has already backed the adoption of a net zero target at EU level and will continue to support this level of ambition going forward.
Banning the sale of fossil fuel cars by 2030
A draft Head is being developed in consultation with the relevant Government Departments to address the commitment in the National Development Plan and Climate Action Plan to introduce legislation to ban the registration of new fossil fuel cars from 2030 and to stop the granting of NCTs from 2045 (Head 16 is acting as a placeholder). In effect, from 2030 it will not be possible to register any new car which runs on fossil fuel. This will be developed further in consultation with the relevant Departments concerned and will be submitted to Government for approval in the New Year.