Wednesday, 18 December 2019
Climate Action and Low Carbon Development: Statements
On the level of fines, they are not finally determined. Basically, Ireland has two areas where we are likely to fall short. In regard to the 16% renewable energy across all systems, not just electricity, we are likely to fall short and we will have to purchase statistical transfers. The price at which they will be bought is not yet set or known. We have to enter into discussions about them.
Regarding the non-ETS target, we have some accumulated credits that date back some considerable years. The additional purchases are not that significant; the expected volume is of the order of ten to 15 million tonnes. This will depend on the figures because they are cumulative targets in the years 2013 to 2020. In the early years, we were below target and since the economic recovery, we have been ahead of target and these will only be known when we get to that point.
Detailed modelling work is going on in the Department on the NACP. We have indicated to the EU that that work has to be completed before we provide it with the plan. It is happy that we proceed in that way, and we will provide opportunities for people to input into it.
The just transition commissioner is something that I worked on for a considerable period to develop a response, with my colleague, the Minister, Deputy Pascal Donohoe, the details of which were contained in the budget. There are four elements to what we are doing. We are going to repurpose the PSO, so that money will come from the electricity system to fund enhanced restoration of Bord na Móna bogs. We will also then have the just transition fund, which at this point has had €11 million allocated to it this year. We will also have money allocated for non-Bord na Móna bogs restoration, and we have €20 million allocated for retrofitting.
As the Deputy will be aware, a task force is in place in the midlands and we are working closely with it. The terms of reference were decided by Government. At that level we have an implementation group led by the Taoiseach's Department. These are key players in helping us design this. There is provision for support for Mr. Mulvey both in my own Department and indeed in the region. The terms of reference have been fairly loose, in that he can come back with recommendations where we have left open an opportunity for him to shape the response. His work will shape how we deliver the just transition across a range of areas.
I am not an expert on how carbon inventories are calculated but it is certainly my understanding that there is not a count of the acreage of forest or of planting, and a credit attributed to such planting. This is an aggregate credit, which I think from memory is 26.8 million tonnes, which we received for our accumulated forestry. We will need to considerably step up our forestry coverage to maintain our calculated credits. We need to improve on where we are. It is not a question of counting things that are already there and thinking that we will get benefit from doing that. We must show that we are improving from the existing base. Deputy Fitzmaurice's idea of counting material that is already there will not give any benefit. If we improve the carbon retention of our hedgerows or plant copses within pastureland, many measures can be taken to contribute to this. The Minister of State, Deputy Andrew Doyle, is probably more of an expert than I am in that area.
The question of tax incentives has not been considered. This is above the line. Tax incentives have a bad reputation in Ireland because when they were given out, they proved very costly and did not have the same accountability or forensic design. We are trying to design measures funded from the carbon fund and other sources that we believe are tailored rather than what has happened in the past where broad-based tax incentives were given that were retained beyond the purposefulness and not forensically examined. Tax incentives do not draw support across the House generally.
We have achieved the inclusion of peat within the coal platform. As part of the green deal, there is an increasing emphasis in Europe on developing just transition funds and, therefore, there is an opportunity for us to access additional funds.
The regional enterprise strategy for the midlands focuses strongly on the transition to a low-carbon economy. IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland and all such bodies are building their offering in respect of the regional strategy around projects like that. They are all behind the strategy.