Written answers

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment

Climate Change Negotiations

Duncan Smith (Dublin Fingal, Labour)
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208. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the discussions he had with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine with respect to the position being adopted by Ireland in negotiations concerning the reduction of emissions and biodiversity matters arising from the proposals for a reformed Common Agricultural Policy and the Green New Deal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16437/21]

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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The European Green Deal is the European Commission’s overarching plan to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, while boosting the competitiveness of European industry and ensuring a just transition for the regions and workers affected. It includes a number of legislative proposals, new strategies and action plans, financing instruments and non-legislative initiatives, which span all sectors. The Government has welcomed the European Green Deal and officials across Departments have been engaging with and supporting the European Commission in delivering on the European Green Deal Programme.

Ireland has significantly increased its climate ambition in the Programme for Government, including an average of 7% reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions per annum from 2021 to 2030 and the goal of achieving net zero emissions no later than 2050.

As Minister for Climate Action, I am leading on delivering this shared commitment as set out in the Programme for Government. With the increased scale and depth of this ambition, new strategies will be needed to sustain an emissions reductions trajectory, which increases over time. I am working with colleagues across Government to develop a 2021 Climate Action Plan, which will include additional initiatives in every sector, including biodiversity and nature-based solutions for climate change mitigation. 

The Programme for Government recognises the need for coherence between our climate reform and biodiversity responsibilities. This is particularly the case in the agriculture sector, where the Programme for Government contains a dedicated section covering both climate action and biodiversity. It is important that reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy reward farmers for sequestering carbon, restoring biodiversity, improving water and air quality, producing clean energy, and developing schemes that support results-based outcomes. I am working with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine along with the Minister of State with responsibility for Land Use and Biodiversity, to maximise the clear synergies between climate and biodiversity policy.

Duncan Smith (Dublin Fingal, Labour)
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209. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will report on the discussions he had at EU level regarding an EU trading system for agricultural emissions as referenced in the Climate Action Plan 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16438/21]

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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The Climate Action Plan 2019 commits to work with other Member States and the European Commission to consider the creation of an alternative regulatory regime (such as an ETS-type system) for agricultural emissions. The aim of such a system would be to help address the challenge of meeting increasing food demand internationally, while at the same time, contributing to climate commitments, including avoiding the off-shoring of agricultural activity to less carbon-efficient production systems. Such an initiative will require close collaboration and buy-in from other Member States and the European Commission.

Ireland has significantly increased its climate ambition, with the implementation of the Climate Action Plan 2019 and the step change in climate objectives set out in the Programme for Government, including an average of 7% reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions per annum form 2021 to 2030. This increase in ambition will be reflected in the next iteration of the Climate Action Plan.

The Environmental Protection Agency's recent  publication “Ireland’s Environment: An Integrated Assessment 2020”, demonstrates that the overall quality of Ireland’s environment is on a downward trend, requiring us to accelerate addressing these challenges across all sectors of the economy and wider society. In drafting the Climate Action Plan 2021, far reaching policy changes will be developed across every sector, including agriculture, that set us on the path of systemic change that is required for Ireland to become a climate-neutral and climate-resilient society and economy by 2050 at the latest. 

With the 2030 Climate Target Plan and EU Climate Law, the EU will raise its ambition on reducing greenhouse gas emissions to at least 55% below 1990 levels by 2030. This is a substantial increase compared to the existing 40% emissions reduction target. The Commission is preparing to present, by June 2021, an overhaul of all relevant climate legislation as part of a “Fit for 55 Package” to align with the newly proposed target. As part of preparing this legislation, the Commission will consider how emissions are accounted for between the agriculture and land-use sectors.

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