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In 2021, Ireland published the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill. The Bill will establish a legally binding framework with clear targets and commitments set in law, including a commitment to achieve, no later than 2050, the transition to a climate-resilient, biodiversity-rich, environmentally sustainable and climate-neutral economy. The Bill establishes a system of 5-year economy-wide carbon budgets including sectoral targets that will provide a limit for total greenhouse gas emissions.
The Bill was approved by Government in March 2021. An eight-week National Dialogue on Climate Action was launched on the same day. Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland, Michéal Martin, said: "This is a landmark day for Ireland. We all know that Climate Change is already happening, and the time to act is now. The Bill we are publishing today affirms our ambition to be a global leader in this field. As we begin our journey towards net zero emissions, the government is committed to tackling the challenges, and embracing the opportunities, this transition can bring our economy, our society and our country. We must continue to act, across Government, as there is no time to waste when it comes to securing our future."
Also in 2021, it was announced that Ireland will now report greenhouse gas emissions and removals from managed wetlands (and including bogs) as part of progress towards EU greenhouse gas targets.
"Climate change is the existential challenge facing our world and the recent extreme weather events re-emphasise the urgency in which we must act," said Micheál Marin, Ireland's Prime Minister. "Climate change and rising sea levels will have a particularly detrimental effect on island nations and we must invest in action. It is essential that we as a nation make significant progress towards reducing our greenhouse gas emissions including short lived gases like methane and we are firmly committed to doing so. As an international leader in food quality, Ireland will champion change so that we can all benefit from the opportunities that a cleaner and healthier environment will bring."
In addition, the public is being invited to take part in the consultation for the design of the next Energy Efficiency Obligation Scheme. The new scheme will build on the obligation scheme that has been in place since 2014 and will contribute significantly to the delivery of Ireland’s energy saving target under the revised EU Energy Efficiency Directive. The scheme will also support the delivery of Ireland’s broader national climate ambition.
In 2019, Ireland released a Climate Action Plan which outlines its climate ambitions from 2021-2030 and includes the actions needed for Ireland to comply with its 2030 emissions targets.
The European Commission’s proposal for the first European Climate Law aims to write into law the goal set out in the European Green Deal – for Europe’s economy and society to become climate-neutral by 2050. As part of the European Climate Law, the Commission has recently agreed a new EU 2030 emissions target of at least a 55% reduction from 1990 emissions levels by 2030 in compliance with the European Union's updated NDC. This is a significant increase from the current EU 2030 target of a 40% reduction on 1990 levels. This new EU target will mean an increase to Ireland’s national 2030 targets, which are to be proposed by the Commission by June 2021.
Ireland has welcomed and is supportive of the development of a European Climate Law. It is consistent with the national approach as the Programme for Government commits to an average 7% per annum reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions from 2021 to 2030, and to achieving net zero emissions by no later than 2050. This 2050 commitment will be set in law by the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021 which was published on 23 March 2021.
The Climate Action Plan is currently being updated to reflect even greater ambition in the Programme for Government and the 2021 update will be published later this year.
In Ireland, Agriculture remains the single largest contributor to overall emissions at 34% of the total. In response, Ireland is making large contributions towards climate-smart agricultural practices, particularly in the reduction of biogenic methane emissions, which comprise 65% of the country's agricultural emissions. In the 2020 Ag-Climatise strategy, Ireland lays out a roadmap for reducing emissions of ammonia and biogenic methane to zero by 2050 through investment in manure management, low emissions slurry spreading, feed additives and improving the digestibility and quality of feed. The next 2021 Climate Action Plan will further evolve the role agriculture and the agri-food industry play in supporting Ireland’s climate ambitions, and responsibilities.
The EU Joint Research Centre (JRC) found that Ireland’s food production systems provide for some of the lowest carbon footprint profiles across the EU on a per unit basis. To-date efficiencies have lowered both the emissions intensity of the food produced and have also contributed to reductions in absolute agricultural emissions.
Research is critical in progressing state of art technologies to improve both the carbon efficiency and climate resilience of Irish agriculture. Irish agricultural GHG research is focused on developing an improved understanding of the key processes involved in the production of methane and N2O emissions; identifying promising mitigation options (such as dietary strategies, manure management, fertiliser technologies as well as researching future technologies; quantifying the carbon sequestration potential of agricultural soils).
Ireland is a member of the Global Research Alliance (GRA) on agricultural greenhouse gases and co-chairs its Livestock Research Group (LRG). The country also supports research to reduce methane emissions from Irish agricultural systems, funding the "METH-ABATE" programme, in collaboration between Ireland and Northern Ireland, and the "METHLAB" programme.
Ireland aims to reduce their F-gas emissions by two-thirds by 2030 in comparison with 2009-2012 levels, in accordance with EU regulations.
Independent of the CCAC’s Household Energy Initiative, Irish Aid has provided support for cookstove projects in Malawi and Ethiopia. With their aid, Malawi announced that they had implemented 2 million clean cookstoves by the end of 2020.
In 2015, Ireland committed to provide 175 million EUR to climate financing between 2016 and 2020. Ireland successfully met this commitment by 2018. As part of the first replenishment of the Green Climate Fund for the period 2020 to 2023, Ireland committed to double its annual contribution, providing a total of 16 million EUR for the period. Moving forward, Ireland has expressed that they will put more emphasis on climate support and funding for small island developing countries and least developed states, making climate action a core theme in all new Irish Aid. A multi-annual funding strategy is expected to be put in place in 2021 to guide continued progress in reaching the commitment to double the percentage of official development assistance that is climate finance by 2030 set out in A Better World and in the Programme for Government.
Ireland supports CCAC projects in developing countries as a donor to the CCAC Trust Fund. Details about Ireland's contributions and pledges can be found here. Find out more about Ireland’s climate and clean air action below.
Climate & Environmental Finance