Tuesday, 3 July 2018
Establishment of Special Joint Committee on Climate Action: Motion
The Citizens' Assembly published its final report on how the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change, on 18 April 2018. The report builds on the conclusions of the Citizens' Assembly following two weekends of deliberation on the energy, transport and agriculture sectors, international best practice and existing national policies and activities. A total of 17 recommendations are detailed in the report. This is comprised of 13 recommendations reached by majority vote from the Citizens' Assembly ballot paper voting and four ancillary recommendations compiled from further submissions made by members via a member reflective exercise response facility for the assembly. The terms of reference of the special committee take into account the recommendations of the Citizens' Assembly and the committee will play an important role in informing the preparation of Ireland's draft national energy and climate plan, which the Department is currently preparing. The terms of reference also include the national development plan. The Government means to do mean business when it comes to taking strong action on climate change. I was very pleased recently to launch the climate action priority of Project Ireland 2040 with An Taoiseach and a number of my Cabinet colleagues. Over the next decade we will spend €22 billion on climate-focused investments. That represents a huge leap forward in our approach, both in the scale of our ambition and the funding we are making available as a Government to meet the challenges. In fact, €1 in every €5 to be spent by the State and State companies in capital investment over the next decade will have a climate-related focus. That is not just significant on a European scale but on a global scale.
We also expect to invest €4,000 million in energy efficiency upgrades of buildings and within the next 200 months, dirty fossil fuels will be taken out of our heating systems, including homes. That will be an achievement of global significance given the fact that 37% of homes are in rural areas. We will have dirty fossil fuels taken out of electricity generation by 2030. Over the next decade our ambition is to increase production of electricity from renewable sources to 55% by 2030, which would be a phenomenal feat, in light of the fact that we have such an isolated electricity grid.
In terms of regulatory measures, the national development plan commits the Government to no new non-zero emission cars to be sold in Ireland post 2030. In effect, there will be a ban on tailpipes on new cars from 2030. We will become the first EU country to do so. It is intended that no NCT certificate will be issued for non-zero emission cars post-2045. That is one of the most ambitious commitments on zero emissions on passenger cars in the entire EU. There will also be a transition to a low emission urban bus fleet, including electric buses, with no diesel-only buses purchased from 1 July 2019. The low-carbon, climate resilient transition ahead will require a societal transformation.
The Citizens' Assembly demonstrates that individual citizens can produce very clear recommendations when provided with an opportunity to reflect and consider in detail a specific societal change. It also underlines for me that Ireland will not achieve its climate objectives through Government action alone and engagement with wider society on an ongoing basis will be vital. Last Saturday week, I hosted the first regional gathering under the national dialogue on climate action to involve individual citizens and communities in the process of shaping Ireland's low-carbon transition. These meetings are the first step of engagement with communities across the country. The establishment by the joint Houses of this special committee is an important milestone for the Oireachtas. I and my officials look forward to working with the committee on its work programme.