Tuesday, 22 September 2020
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
185. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he is satisfied that carbon emissions throughout the EU are measured equally with a view to ensuring that the more developed countries in the EU do not have the advantage over expanding economies such as Ireland with a view to an evenly spread advantage or disadvantage throughout the EU and noting in particular the relatively low rate of heavy carbon emitting industry here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25547/20]
The next ten years are critical if we are to address the climate crisis which threatens our safe future on this planet. The Programme for Government commits to an average 7% per annum reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions from 2021 to 2030 - a 51% reduction over the decade - and to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Specifically in relation to the EU's existing 2030 target to reduce greenhouse gases by 40%, the Climate Action Plan 2019 sets out the policies and measures to underpin Ireland's contribution to the overall EU-wide ambition.
The 40% greenhouse gas target is implemented by the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) and the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR). The EU ETS limits emissions from more than 11,000 heavy energy-using power stations, industrial plants and airlines, while the ESR sets out binding annual greenhouse gas emission targets for Member States which concern emissions from most sectors not included in the EU ETS, such as transport, buildings, agriculture, small industry, and waste. In Ireland, our ETS sector accounts for 25% of our emissions, with the remaining 75% in the non-ETS sector. This compares to an EU average of 39% ETS and 61% non-ETS.
Following agreement reached in late 2017, the revised ETS Directive (EU) 2018/410 sets out the arrangements for Phase IV (2021-2030). Ireland recognises the importance of the ETS as the EU’s main tool for reducing industrial emissions and engaged proactively on a number of issues, including on carbon leakage, to ensure that the revised provisions took account of the Irish context.
The ESR sets targets for Member States based on GDP per capita and the cost-effectiveness of domestic emissions reductions within individual Member States. The final agreement sets Ireland a target of 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. Ireland’s relatively small ETS sector was one of a number of key factors taken into account when setting this target, and the associated mitigation options that have been made available to Ireland towards complying with our ESR obligations.
It is important to recognise that the European Commission has just presented its plan to increase its ambition to reduce EU greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, from its existing target of 40% to at least 55%, compared to 1990 levels. This level of ambition for the next decade will put the EU on a balanced pathway to reaching climate neutrality by 2050. It is intended that the 2030 target will be enshrined in the EU Climate Law. The European Parliament and the Council have been invited to confirm this 55% 2030 target as the EU's new Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement, and to submit this to the UNFCCC by the end of this year. Legislative proposals to implement the new EU 2030 target will be presented by June 2021, and additional effort will be asked of all Member States, including Ireland.
Ireland has supported increased climate ambition at EU level through the European Green Deal, while asserting the importance of cost-effectiveness and fairness across Member States in pursuit of increased ambition. My Department is fully engaging with the European Commission in this work to ensure Ireland contributes appropriately, while ensuring that our national circumstances are reflected in the outcome.