Climate action: What are the new Government measures?

Plan on climate change contains almost 200 actions to ensure Ireland meets targets

School pupils during a global protest for action to tackle climate change, outside the Dáil in Dublin in March. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

School pupils during a global protest for action to tackle climate change, outside the Dáil in Dublin in March. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

The Government plan to tackle climate disruption was being published on Monday. The following are some of the almost 200 actions to be taken so Ireland can achieve climate-change targets, according to a draft report seen by The Irish Times and a press release sent by Government on Monday.

Taxes/Levys

Regulations will be introduced to curb the use of single-use plastics by the end of 2021 and, by the end of this year, the Government will “scope a number of possible environmental levies, including a possible levy on single-use plastics”. It says it will eliminate non-recyclable plastic and impose higher fees on the production of materials which are difficult to recycle, implement measures to ban single-use plastic plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks and cotton buds

As has already been mooted, carbon tax will rise to €80 per tonne by 2030.

Homes/Heating /Electricity

The Government aims to retrofit 500,000 homes. Under the new plan, homeowners could choose to pay for the cost of retrofitting their homes to make them more energy efficient through higher property tax or electricity bills. A new “easy-pack” model for retrofitting homes will be examined by the end of the year. Improving the energy efficiency of homes is a major element of the plan, with the midlands earmarked for a “major house-retrofitting programme”.

The plan says that 70 per cent of all electricity will come from renewable sources by 2030 (up from 30 per cent). A pilot scheme to allow homeowners sell electricity generated through solar panels back to the national grid will be introduced, with the scheme rolled out across the country by 2021.

The installation of oil boilers will be banned from 2022 – and gas boilers from 2025 – in all new homes. The required regulation for this will be enacted this year.

By the end of this year all buildings undergoing major renovation – defined as more than 25 per cent of the “building envelope” – must bring the rest of the building up to a minimum Ber B2 rating.

A review on how to replace all oil and gas boilers in existing buildings – domestic and commercial – will be completed this year, although no new regulation would come into force before 2026.

The Government proposes a retrofitting programme to install 400,000 heat pumps in homes and businesses. A major push to promote alternatives to fossil fuel boilers is envisaged, such as developing national standards for heat pumps and introducing - by the end of 2023 - a training programme to “upskill approximately 300-500 heat pump installers”.

The Government will establish a new microgeneration scheme, allowing homeowners to generate their own electricity and sell what they don’t use back to the national grid

Transport:

Expand cycling path network and park and ride facilities;

Providing local authorities with the “the power to restrict access to certain parts of a city or a town to zero emissions vehicles only”.

By the end of 2019, a study would look at the potential for congestion charges, low emission zones and changes to car-parking polices in urban areas. The study, which would be published in the first quarter of 2020, would “recommend most appropriate responses for Dublin/Cork/Galway/Limerick”.

The controversial BusConnects scheme, which has met with some public opposition in Dublin, is also included, although the plan says it will be implemented “in phases”.

A number of taxation changes – such as equalising duties on petrol and diesel and changing vehicle registration and motor tax – are earmarked for “consideration in context of budget”. Introduction of a car scrappage scheme in 2020 to encourage the increased take-up of electric vehicles.

Bring 950,000 electric vehicles onto our roads, deliver a nationwide charging network, an electric vehicle scrappage scheme and legislation to ban the sale of petrol / diesel cars from 2030. All councils will be provided with greater capital investment by the end of the year to develop up to 200 on-street chargers for electric vehicles annually.

Agriculture

Reduce greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture by creating new, sustainable opportunities for family farms

In agriculture and land use, measures on improving livestock management, improving the efficient use of nitrogen and land use, such as increased afforestation, and the better management of peatlands and soils are included

Policy

Establish a system of five year carbon budgets and sector targets, with the relevant Minister responsible for delivering on the target, with penalities if they are not met. These targets will be underpinned by a new Climate Action Act. All major government investments and decisions will be carbon-proofed

Every public body will be given a climate action mandate by their line Minister to prioritise climate action and new letters of expectation will issue to semi-state bodies on climate action.

Establishment the Climate Action Delivery Board to ensure that the delivery of the plan is overseen by the Taoiseach’s office.

A new “path” to achieve net zero-carbon emissions by 2050 is mentioned, though the plan does not actually commit the State to such a target. The current Irish target is an 80 per cent reduction by mid-century, though climate scientists say this is insufficient to keep global temperature rises to within 2 degrees as envisaged under the Paris Agreement.