Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action

General Scheme of the Climate Action and Low-Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2020: Discussion

Mr. Brian Carroll:

I will start with Deputy Bruton's question and comment because they speak to some of the other points raised. I agree with Deputy Bruton's views, in particular regarding some of the concerns raised about 7% per annum on average being in a programme for government and how locked-in this ambition is. Deputy Bruton is absolutely correct when he says that when we have our first two carbon budgets of the series of three they will cover the period from 2021 to 2025 and 2026 to 2030 and they will have to lock in the ambition in the programme for government. There is no provision to change these budgets, except in very exceptional circumstances where there has been a change in the climate science that warrants such a change or if we have new binding international or EU targets. Absolutely the carbon budgets will lock in the ambition in a very hard way.

I will not go back to Deputy Bríd Smith, who was the first in and asked about the distinctive characteristics of biogenic methane. It is produced through biological processes from waste or animals and it has some distinct characteristics. Its life in the atmosphere is estimated to be 12 years, compared to carbon or CO2, which lasts from a century to a millennium in the atmosphere. Its global warming potential is higher than that of carbon. It is approximately 28 times higher. The other piece about biogenic methane, and it is consistent with the UN thinking, is that while we have technological solutions to get our carbon emissions to zero by 2050 there will be residual biogenic methane and nitrous oxide emissions. What we are aiming for is that they will be balanced by the creation of sinks and nature-based solutions and other ways of removing them from the atmosphere.

The next set of comments related to climate scientists-----