Thursday, 1 April 2021
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
23. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the full extent of existing capacity to sequestrate carbons by way of permanent grassland, forestry, trees, hedges and wetlands in Ireland; if this has been taken into account in determining the baseline for carbon emissions in this country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17667/21]
The Programme for Government outlined a commitment to evaluating the potential for contributions towards our climate ambition from land-use improvements and set in train the development of a land-use plan, based on its findings. This review will include farmland, forests and peatlands so that optimal land use options inform relevant government decisions. The review will balance environmental, social, and economic considerations and involve a process of evaluation of the ecological characteristics of the land. It will include consideration of emissions to air and water, carbon sequestration, and climate adaptation challenges. The working group with responsibility for this review is being jointly managed by my Department and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
While EU Member States currently report emissions and removals from the land use sector, such emissions are not currently accounted for in relation to the calculation of compliance with emissions targets in the period to 2020. This will change with the application of a new EU land use accountingsystem for the period 2021-2030 which will apply from 2023 (when accounting will commence retrospectively for the year 2021) and will set specific targets for emissions and removals from land use. The impact of emissions and removals from five out of six land use sectors will be included in the new system from 2021 to 2025 (Managed Cropland, Managed Grassland, Afforestation, Deforestation, and Managed Forests), with Member States having the option to include the impact of the sixth, “Managed Wetland”, in this first period. Ireland opted in to include the impact of Managed Wetland on greenhouse gas emissions and removals for the period 2021 to 2025. This voluntary accounting puts Ireland on a stronger footing for accounting for greenhouse gas emissions and removals and in making the strategic changes required to support the country to meet our national, European and international climate change targets.
Ireland’s National Inventory Report 2020, published by the Environmental Protection Agency, reports that Ireland was a net emitter from the land use sector in 2018, emitting a total of 4.3 MTCO2eq.