Wednesday, 28 September 2016
Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
Climate Change Policy
237. To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will respond to the recently published estimates by a member of the Government's Climate Change Advisory Council that failure to meet Ireland's EU 2020 and 2030 climate action targets could result in a shrinking of fiscal space by €3 billion to €6 billion; the way in which his Department will respond to the potential risk to public finances this poses and if serious action will be carried out to increase climate ambition and action here; if this action will be included in the national mitigation plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27707/16]
The Paris Agreement was the major outcome of the 21stConference of Parties held under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from 30 November to 12 December 2015. The agreement is built on the premise of all parties submitting and carrying out Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) outlining the measures they will carry out to reduce their negative impacts on the environment. The European Union, as a single entity, has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030 compared with 1990 levels.
The specific responsibilities of individual Member States contributing to this overall EU target have yet to be agreed for the period 2021-2030. The Commission published draft proposals in this regard on 20 July last and analysis is on-going to assess the full implications of these for Ireland. Deliberations are also on-going within the wider EU context. The outcome of these deliberations will ultimately determine Ireland’s contribution, which needs to reflect a level of ambition that is technically feasible, cost-effective and fair, to the overall EU 2030 effort.
The extent of the challenge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in line with our EU and international commitments, is well understood by the Government, as reflected in the National Policy Position on Climate Action and Low Carbon Development, published in April 2014, and now underpinned by the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015which was enacted in December 2015. The National Policy Position provides a high-level policy direction for the adoption and implementation by Government of plans to enable the State to move to a low-carbon economy by 2050. Statutory authority for the plans is set out in the Act.
In accordance with Section 4 of the Act, and in line with responsibilities delegated to me as Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, I intend to submit a draft National Mitigation Plan for public consultation by the end of this year, followed by a final plan to be submitted to Government for approval by June 2017. Work is well underway on the development of the National Mitigation Plan, the primary objective of which will be to track implementation of measures already underway and identify additional measures in the longer term to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and progress the overall national low carbon transition agenda to 2050. The first iteration of the National Mitigation Plan will place particular focus on putting the necessary measures in place to address the challenge to 2020, but also in terms of planning ahead to ensure that appropriate policies and measures will be in place for the period 2021-2030.
A key element of the development process for successive National Mitigation Plans will be the identification of the most cost-effective measures with the optimal mitigation potential, which safeguard Ireland’s competitiveness and ideally support sustainable economic growth. This will be done with due consideration of both current and future fiscal space.