‘Touch and go’ to meet publication deadline for Government climate roadmap

Climate Change Advisory Council yet to finalise deliberations based on latest science

The two pillars of the plan are the five-year Carbon Budgets and the yearly Climate Action Plans, both of which will set out how Ireland will reduce its emissions from 62 million tonnes of carbon to just over 30 million tonnes by 2030. Photograph: iStock

The two pillars of the plan are the five-year Carbon Budgets and the yearly Climate Action Plans, both of which will set out how Ireland will reduce its emissions from 62 million tonnes of carbon to just over 30 million tonnes by 2030. Photograph: iStock

 

The Government’s aim of having its detailed roadmap for halving greenhouse emissions published before the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow starts on October 31st is now “touch and go”, according to sources with knowledge of the process.

The two pillars of the plan are the five-year Carbon Budgets and the yearly Climate Action Plans, both of which will set out how Ireland will reduce its emissions from 62 million tonnes of carbon to just over 30 million tonnes by 2030.

The first Carbon Budget will specify the overall reduction in carbon emissions for Ireland between 21 and 2025. The second Carbon Budget, which will be published alongside it, will then set out the remaining reductions that will be required between 2026 and 2030, to achieve the Government’s commitment to reduce emissions by 51 per cent.

The body with statutory responsibility for advising the Government on the figures is the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC), which is basing its findings on the latest science. It has yet to finalise its deliberations. Speaking on RTÉ yesterday, its chair Marie Donnelly said it would be in a position to make a formal proposal to the Government “very shortly”.

A number of different sources, speaking privately, said it was more likely for the proposal to be made next week rather than this week.

Overall targets

The CCAC proposal will set out two overall targets over this decade that add up to 51 per cent, or 30 million tonnes. However, its proposals will not include breakdowns, or sectoral limits, for areas such as agriculture, energy and transport.

Those targets for each sector will have to be negotiated internally by the Government. While some work has been going on in the background, it cannot conclude until the CCAC reveals the Carbon Budgets for each of the two five-year terms.

According to sources, those negotiations could take several days and then the Carbon Budget has to be approved by both houses of the Oireachtas. It is only then that the Climate Action Plan for 2021/2022 can be published containing specific targets for each sector over the following 12 months. The Action Plan will be updated annually.

The Government was working on a plan to publish the first action plan on Thursday, the 28th but achieving that will be very tight.

“It’s going to go to the wire,” said one person familiar with the process. “It’s unlikely that everything will be in place in time for COP26 but [Minister for Climate Change] Eamon Ryan will be able to set out most of the details when he travels to the Summit in Glasgow.”

Much of the speculation has surrounded the contribution agriculture will be asked to make to the climate action plans over the next decade.