Written answers

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment

Climate Action Plan

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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210. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the extent to which he expects climate change policies to appeal to individual householders and businesses in the context of the reduction of greenhouse gases; if he can ensure sufficient uptake to achieve the result; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49645/19]

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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218. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the extent to which the action plan for climate change is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and 2050; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49668/19]

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin Bay North, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 210 and 218 together.

The Climate Action Plan, which I launched in June, sets out the comprehensive suite of actions to ensure Ireland can meet the 2030 climate commitments putting us on a trajectory to be net zero by 2050. Broader Government policy, including carbon pricing, and grant supports offered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, will play an important role in driving the changes required to reduce greenhouse gases at individual and business levels.

I am also confident that informed citizens will play a crucial role in the choices that they make in regard to climate action. The Climate Action Plan, therefore, addresses the role of citizen engagement and community leadership. The related actions include enhancing the effectiveness of climate-related communications, network building, and developing deliberative capacity, including through the National Dialogue on Climate Change (NDCA).

Communications and engagement will be closely intertwined with policy changes to be delivered. It will rest on three key elements:

- persuasive, consistent and effective external-facing communications on climate change and the need for action, including specific details on what the state is doing and what individuals can do to contribute;

- engagement designed to empower communities, that builds on the Climate Action Regional Roadshows, and quickly leads to mobilisation, capacity building and local action, and

- efficient exchange of information within the civil and public service, including all relevant commercial semi-state companies, directly related to supporting the Government’s climate action objectives.

The overall objective of this approach is create a long- term process to communicate with citizens on the national objective of transitioning to a low carbon, climate resilient society and economy by 2050 in which every citizen has a role to play.

Engagements, on a regional and local basis have already taken place, with stakeholders in Athlone, Tralee and Kildare. I have also held a series of regional town hall meetings since the publication of the Climate Action Plan to gather views in relation to its implementation. In consultation with the EPA, I am currently developing a model for implementation of the next phase of the NDCA which will focus on local activation.

Engaging youth is key to the driving and encouraging future behavioural changes and I am communicating with that generation through a number of strands, including supports for climate related activity for Green Schools, and ECO-UNESCO. Government is also establishing a dedicated National Youth Council for Climate Action and Climate Justice. The Council will be established by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, in close partnership with my own Department. Furthermore, the Government, through the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, has allocated in Budget 2020 for a new special fund for youth action on climate justice to enhance channels for direct engagement between young people and decision makers across Government and beyond. The overall goal will be to assist young people to engage in enduring dialogue with decision-makers, and support initiatives which are both youth-led and respond to the issues raised by young people.

I also welcome the recent initiative of the Oireachtas to hold the Youth Assembly on 15 November. It is heartening to see the active engagement and mobilisation to the climate crisis which is, without doubt, the defining challenge of our generation. I thank the members of the Youth Assembly for their recommendations for action to stop climate breakdown which I am currently considering.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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211. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the extent to which recognition is given to the fact that Ireland produces food to meet the need of more than 40 million persons under the most efficient production methods resulting in the lowest carbon level in Europe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49646/19]

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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212. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the extent to which he remains satisfied that sufficient carbon reduction proposals are in place to meet national targets while at the same time protecting the agrifood sector here and the low carbon level in the sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49647/19]

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin Bay North, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 211 and 212 together.

The Climate Action Plan identifies the long-term challenge for the agriculture sector to meet the national policy objective, set out in the 2014 National Policy Position on Climate Action and Low Carbon Development, of an approach to carbon neutrality which does not compromise our capacity for sustainable food production. Ireland’s agriculture sector has strong green credentials and a positive international reputation in terms of carbon efficiency. However, given the contribution of agriculture to overall national greenhouse gas emissions, a shift in the sector is needed and achieving this objective will be a significant challenge facing Irish agriculture over the coming decades.

Significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved through meeting the targets set out for the agriculture sector in the Climate Action Plan. To achieve these targets, the Plan sets out a range of actions to reduce emissions on farms, promote afforestation and diversification of land use, develop opportunities in the bio-economy and in the supply of substitutes for fossil fuels, promote better management of peatlands and soils, and develop clusters of best practice.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has recently launched a public consultation on a draft National Climate and Air Roadmap for the Agriculture Sector to 2030 and Beyond. This consultation aims to address the issue of emission reduction targets while meeting the high ambitions of the Irish agriculture sector. It recognises the important role of the next Common Agricultural Policy, which is to have a strong climate ambition and will be implemented in Ireland through the development of a strategic plan for the period 2021 to 2027.

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