Cutting Emissions, Creating Green Jobs, Protecting People and the Planet

4 Nov 2021

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The Government has today (Thursday 4th November) launched Climate Action Plan 2021, an ambitious plan to put Ireland on a more sustainable path, cutting emissions, creating a cleaner, greener economy and society and protecting us from the devastating consequences of climate change.

The Climate Action Plan follows the Climate Act 2021, which commits Ireland to a legally binding target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050, and a reduction of 51% by 2030. These targets are a key pillar of the Programme for Government.

This is a huge opportunity to create new jobs and grow businesses in areas like offshore wind, cutting-edge agriculture, or retrofitting, making our homes warmer and safer. It makes Ireland one of the most ambitious countries in the world on climate.

The plan sets out indicative ranges of emissions reductions for each sector of the economy. It also sets out the actions needed to deliver on our climate targets.

Emissions reductions by 2030 – by sector:

• Electricity: 62-81%

• Transport: 42-50%

• Buildings: 44-56%

• Industry/Enterprise: 29-41%

• Agriculture: 22-30% reduction

• Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF): 37-58%

The Government will support the changes through major public investment announced recently in the €165bn National Development Plan, including increased funding for retrofitting our homes, building new public transport, reskilling workers, and supporting a just transition.

Key Actions by 2030

Among the most critical measures in the plan is to increase the proportion of renewable electricity to up to 80% by 2030, including an increased target of up to 5 Gigawatts of offshore wind. This will be crucial as we move away from fossil fuels and towards the electrification of transport, heat and other areas.

The Government will also introduce a small-scale generation scheme for farmers, businesses and communities to generate their own electricity and feed this back into the grid.

The plan calls for a significant reduction in transport emissions by 2030. Measures will include enabling 500,000 extra walking, cycling and public transport journeys per day by 2030. We will accelerate the pace of EV (Electric Vehicle) take-up, to reach almost 1 million EVs in the private transport fleet by 2030. We will also increase public transport and rail and bus electrification, including 1,500 electric buses and better rural links. We will increase the biofuels mix to reduce emissions from the existing fleet.

A new National Retrofit Plan will drive demand, make retrofitting more affordable, and expand the capacity of the industry, including the training of more skilled workers. Other measures include increased targets for district heating and the public sector, and strengthening building standards for all buildings.

This plan will give Irish agriculture a a viable future, producing world class food with a lower carbon footprint, thanks to a science-based approach that also improves biodiversity and protects nature.

Climate Action Plan 2021 places farmers at the very centre. The targets for agriculture will help make Irish farms more carbon efficient and build a more resilient agri-food sector. Farmers know the land better than anyone and are best placed to meet out climate ambitions. They will be backed by an even greater emphasis on science and robust research. There will be a reduction in chemical nitrogen and more targeted use of fertiliser, while maintaining our position as global leader in grass growth through multi-species swards. Other measures include improving the genetics of our herds to reduce emissions and improve productivity. These changes are good for the environment but importantly make sense economically.

Farmers will be incentivised to make these changes and there will be new income streams in areas, such as the generation of renewable energy.

Reducing emissions from land use, and a move to being an overall store of carbon, will involve further bog rehabilitation, increased afforestation, and the rewetting of peat organic soils. A new forestry programme will be prepared for launch in 2023.

Growing the Green Economy

The green economy, including retrofitting, renewable energy, clean mobility and sustainable agriculture will create high quality employment. The IDA will also seek to attract businesses to invest in decarbonisation technologies. The public sector will lead by example and halve emissions by 2030. Green Teams will be established in every public sector body. No new fossil fuel heating systems will be installed in public buildings after 2023, except in very limited exceptional circumstances. All new fleet purchases will be electric from 2023, where such vehicles are available.

Just Transition

Just transition principles are embedded in the plan, including the principles that people need to be equipped with the skills to benefit from changes and that costs need to be shared.

The National Dialogue for Climate Action will ensure that all of those that are impacted are empowered. A Just Transition Commission will be established.

All increases in carbon tax receipts are earmarked for targeted social protection measures, an expansion of retrofitting, particularly for social and low-income homes, and agri-environmental projects.

Speaking at today’s launch of Climate Action Plan 2021, the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin T.D., said:

“Climate change is the single greatest threat facing humanity, and the time to act is now.

“We all must play our part to achieve an Ireland with healthier air, cleaner water, and soil for food to grow.

“The 2020 Programme for Government committed to reduce emissions by 51% by 2030 and to achieve net zero by 2050. This commitment was enshrined in law and today’s Climate Action Plan now sets out the roadmap that we, as a country, will follow – to safeguard our future and that of future generations.”

The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar T.D., said:

“We must take immediate and long-term climate action to bring down our greenhouse gas emissions, in a way that embraces new technology, creates new jobs and new business opportunities, protects rural communities and tries to avoid driving up the cost of living. This plan is our way forward. I believe we can make the most of the opportunities for people, businesses and communities across Ireland.”

The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications and Transport, Eamon Ryan T.D., said:

“As the world gathers in Glasgow to tackle global warming, Ireland is taking decisive action to halve our emissions by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. By delivering on this plan, we will secure the future for our children and theirs. It’s our chance to make the right choice and create a new Ireland where we cut our dependence on fossil fuels, and develop our own renewable resources including offshore wind. A country with cleaner air and water; where homes are warmer and cheaper to heat. Where walking and cycling are safe and accessible, public transport is greener and more frequent, and the rollout of electric vehicles is supported nationwide. Where our food is produced in a greener, cleaner way that also protects nature and supports farmers’ incomes.