The government argues that Ireland does not need a binding national greenhouse gas reduction target like that in place in the UK because the country is legally bound to meet its EU targets.
Under a final draft of the law, future governments will have to draft low-carbon roadmaps for the national economy every five years. The original proposal required roadmaps every seven years.
The low-carbon roadmap is to be supplemented by another plan, the national climate change adaptation framework. Its aim is to sketch out the necessary policy measures to delivery adaptation in a cost-effective way.
The legislative proposal expands the role of a planned expert advisory body, which will now be tasked with making recommendations to government in relation to climate adaptation, as well as on the low-carbon roadmaps.
In a policy document accompanying the draft law, the government stresses agriculture will receive special treatment. The “low-carbon road-mapping process” will be “guided by a long-term vision” of 80% CO2 reduction by 2050, but the approach taken in the agriculture sector will “not compromise capacity for sustainable food production”.
This publication of the bill is timely as Ireland faces major financial penalties if we miss our EU emission reduction target in 2020 due to failure to cut greenhouse gases from agriculture, a sector where the government is promoting large expansion. According the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Ireland Report, there is a significant risk that Ireland will not meet its 2020 EU targets even under the most ambitious emission reduction scenario. The strong projected growth in emissions from transport and agriculture are the key contributors to this trend. The same report estimated a spend up to €300m to meet obligations under the 2009 Effort Sharing Decision (ESD), which requires a 20% reduction in non-ETS emissions relative to 2005 levels by 2020 (the report assumes a carbon price of €10 per tonne of CO2 by 2020).
At the EU level, the Irish government It is pushing for land use emissions to be included in the EU’s post-2020 climate policy as this would assist in cancelling emissions from the large cattle herd.
The draft law will be put to a vote in the Oireachtas before the end of the year.