CAP A6 Policy Context
Appendix 6 Policy Context
Policy, Legislation and Research Updates
Climate Action Plan 2023 was launched in December 2022 and is the second annual update to Ireland’s Climate Action Plan 2019, and the first under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021. The plan will implement the carbon budgets and sectoral emission ceilings as well as setting a roadmap of action to halve our emissions by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.
Accompanying the plan is the Annex of Actions, containing specific actions that are required to meet the targets set out in the plan.
LA CCAP Guidelines
Under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021, each local authority is required to prepare a local authority climate action plan for its administrative area. The plans are to be consistent with the most recent climate action plan and national adaptation framework. A set of statutory guidelines assist in the development of the local authority climate action plans, ensuring a consistent approach across local authorities while allowing for tailoring where required. The plans are to address, and integrate, mitigation of greenhouse gases, climate change adaptation and strengthened alignment with national climate policy, delivering effective local climate action.
Ireland’s Provisional Greenhouse Gas Emissions 1990 – 2022
Ireland is legally obliged to report data on greenhouse gas inventories to the relevant European and international institutions. The EPA is responsible for compiling and reporting this data for the period of 1990 – 2022 to the European Commission and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Due to the National Climate Objective and the associated carbon budgets, climate action plan review and sectoral reporting, the EPA published the provisional inventory data in July 2023 to facilitate the required monitoring and reporting processes.
These figures were based on the interim energy balances provided by the SEAI and the latest data from other data providers. The data is compiled using methodologies in line with UNFCCC reporting guidelines and include emission data from sources within the EU’s Emission Trading Scheme.
The 2022 provisional total national greenhouse gas emissions (excluding LULUCF2) are estimated to be 60.76 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2eq), which is 1.9% lower than emission in 2021. Emissions are over 0.5% lower than pre-pandemic figures in 2019. Including LULUCF, provisional national total emissions for 2022 decreased by 1.8% to 68.07 Mt CO2eq.
The provisional national total emissions including LULUCF for 2022 and latest emission estimates for 2021 are 137.36 Mt CO2eq. This accounts for 46.6% of the first five year Carbon Budget of the 295 Mt CO2eq carbon budget for the period 2021-2025. This leaves 53.4% of the budget available, requiring a 12.4% average annual emission reduction from 2023-2025 to stay within budget.
CCAC Annual Report 2023
In the Annual Review 2023 the Climate Change Advisory Council stated that, “at the current rate of policy implementation, Ireland will not meet the targets set in the first and second carbon budget periods unless urgent action is taken immediately and emissions begin to fall much more rapidly. Ireland’s first task is to reduce and ultimately prevent emissions of greenhouse gases. To support this there must be effective and consistent engagement with communities, ensuring there is a fair and equitable transition, while building and maintaining public support and action.”
The CCAC recommended the following:
- Government must address areas of uncertainty in how Ireland will reduce its emissions. The sectoral emissions ceiling for the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry sector must be set, and it must be clear by how much each sector must reduce its emissions.
- Government needs to identify and remove barriers to policy implementation by ensuring adequate funding and planning reform at scale and speed.
- Key actions need to be implemented now to prevent longer term damage and increased costs to society and the economy.
- Government must adopt new approaches to address emission reductions, creating investment and enhancing skills across the economy, particularly in areas such as retrofitting and renewable energy.
- The establishment of a Just Transition Commission is recommended to ensure that Ireland achieves its climate objectives in a way that is fair and equitable and protects vulnerable people and communities.
- The Government should support opportunities that reduce emissions and make Ireland better prepared for the impacts of climate change
EU Revision of Energy Efficiency Directive
In March 2023 the EU agreed to reform and strengthen the EU Energy Efficiency Directive. This is one of the proposals presented in the Fit for 55 and a step further in delivering the European Green Deal (the EU’s long-term growth strategy to make Europe climate-neutral by 2050) and the REPowerEU Plan (the EU strategy to stop dependency on Russian fossil fuel imports).
The revision to the Energy Efficiency Directive has given legal strength to the requirement for EU countries to take energy efficiency into account in policy, planning and major investment decisions both in the energy sector and beyond. It established an EU energy efficiency target of 11.7% for 2030, requiring EU Member States to collectively ensure an additional reduction of final and primary energy consumption. There is also greater responsibility placed on the public sector to increase energy efficiency; they must take energy efficiency requirements into account for procurement of products, services and works in addition to a new annual energy consumption reduction target of 1.9%.
The revised directive includes the first ever EU definition of energy poverty, putting a stronger focus on alleviating energy poverty and empowering consumers. Member States are required to implement energy efficiency improvement measures as a priority among people affected by energy poverty, vulnerable customers, low-income households, and where applicable, people living in social housing.
Nature Restoration Law
In July 2023 the EU passed the Nature Restoration Law. It is the first continent-wide and comprehensive law of its kind, covering wetlands, forests, grasslands, rivers, lakes, heath and scrub, rocky habitats, dunes, pollinating insects, forests, urban green spaces, agricultural ecosystems, marine ecosystems and river connectivity. Its objective is to restore ecosystems, habitats and species across the EU’s land and sea areas. These actions will enable long-term and sustained recovery of biodiverse and resilient nature, contributing to achieving the EU’s climate mitigation and adaptation objectives, as well as international commitments.
EU countries are expected to submit National Restoration Plans to the Commission and monitor and report on progress.
EU Green Deal
The purpose of the EU Green Deal is to ensure at least 55% less net greenhouse gas emission by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels), no net emission of GHGs by 2050 and economic growth decoupled from resource use, all under the principles of a just transition. To achieve these goals, the EU Green Deal encompasses transformational change across sectors: transport, industry, energy systems, built environment, nature restoration and circular economy.
EU Mission: Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities
European cities can substantially contribute to the EU Green Deal target of reducing emissions by 55% by 2030. Cities take up 4% of the EU’s land area and are home to 75% of EU citizens. Globally, cities consume 65% of the world's energy and account for more than 70% of CO2 emissions. The aim of this EU mission is to deliver 100 climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030, acting as experimentation and innovation hubs to enable all European cities to follow suit by 2050.
Dublin City, alongside Cork City are part of the 100 EU Cities, in addition to the 12 cities from Horizon Europe associated countries. Using Climate City Contracts, portfolios of research and innovation projects and global knowledge exchanges, a network of national, local and regional authorities will support the cities transition to climate neutrality.
EU Mission: Adaptation
The EU Adaptation Mission supports the EU Green deal and contributes to putting the EU’s Adaptation Strategy into practice. Its objective is to accompany 150 European regions and communities towards climate resilience by 2030. The mission will accomplish this by helping the regions and local authorities to better understand, prepare and manage climate risks. In addition to testing and deploying innovation solutions needed to build resilience.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published AR6 Synthesis Report, which is based on the content of the three Working Group Assessment Reports: WGI – The Physical Science Basis, WGII – Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, WGIII – Mitigation of Climate Change, and the three Special Reports: Global Warming of 1.5°C, Climate Change and Land, The Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate.
A message from AR6 Synthesis Report is that the current pace and scale of climate action are insufficient to tackle climate change. Adverse impacts from human-caused change will intensify and extremes become more widespread and pronounced with every increment of warming. The challenge ahead is to cut emissions quickly and sharply, scale up practices and infrastructure to enhance resilience and do both along numerous dimensions.
The report highlights the path forward; tried and tested options are available now, they need to be designed for diverse contexts, scaled up and widely applied. Mainstreaming effective and equitable climate action now via integrated adaption and mitigation in ways to provide wider benefits will reduce losses and damages for both nature and people, as well as improving health and livelihoods, reducing poverty and hunger and resulting in clean energy, water and air.
“Our choices will reverberate for hundreds, even thousands of years.”
The Global Stocktake was established in the Paris Agreement as a process to assess the world’s collective progress toward the goals of the Agreement. Each stocktake is a two-year process and occurs every five-years. The first stocktake began at the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Glasgow (COP 26) in 2021 and will conclude at COP 28 in 2023.
The stocktake occurs in three phases. Phase 1 includes collecting and preparing information. This phase runs from November 2021 until June 2023, with phase 2, a technical assessment, started in June 2022 and will also conclude in June 2023. Phase 3 is a consideration of outputs, focusing on the implications of findings from phase 2, and will occur during COP 28 in November 2023.
The result of phase 3, and the purpose of the stocktake is to:
- identify opportunities and challenges in enhancing action and support in collective progress
- identify possible measures and good practices
- produce recommendations for strengthening action and enhancing support
These are to be referenced in a CMA decision and/or declaration.