Draft climate change legislation to be published today contains several key changes that will tighten the State’s obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The heads of the Climate Action and Low-Carbon Development Bill will be unveiled today by Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan.
Earlier versions of the planned legislation were criticised by a number of organisations campaigning in this area because they contained no specific medium-term or long- term targets for the key dates of 2030 and 2050.
While no specific targets have been included in the heads to be published today, Government sources said yesterday that key changes to the language of the legislation tie the State to an “unequivocal commitment to future and present obligations” for emissions reductions. These include a binding commitment to targets set out by the European Union and the United Nations between now and 2050.
In addition, the Minister will be required to produce a national low-carbon road map every five years rather than every seven years. The road map is the plan setting out how the Government will meet its obligations on emissions and on moving to a low-carbon economy.
The other major change is that the role of the expert advisory body has been expanded and it has been given more powers. Under the heads, its membership will be increased to as many as 11 members and its role will be analogous to that of the fiscal advisory committee, which gives the Government advice on economic matters.
Notes on the draft legislation, seen by The Irish Times , state that it will be "an explicit function of the expert advisory body to advise and make recommendations to the Minister in relation to compliance with any relevant climate-related, existing obligation of the State under European Union law or any international agreement".
The legislation makes an important distinction for agriculture, eschewing following emissions targets in favour of an approach to carbon neutrality. This will be dependent on the acceptance by the EU of carbon sinks (forestry and bogland).
The full Bill is expected to be published before the summer.