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Public Consultation on Ireland’s first National Mitigation Plan

15 March 2017

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten T.D., today launched a statutory public consultation on Ireland's first National Mitigation Plan (NMP). Prepared in accordance with the provisions of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act, 2015, the Plan represents an initial step to set us on a pathway to achieve the level of decarbonisation required. In this context, Ireland's first plan will not only contain measures to address the challenge to 2020, but equally importantly will also begin the development of medium to long term options to ensure that we are well positioned to take the necessary actions in the next and future decades.

The first NMP will not be a complete roadmap to achieve the 2050 objective, but rather a work in progress reflecting the reality of where we are in our decarbonisation transition. It is intended that the NMP becomes a living document, accessible on the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment's website, which is continually updated as ongoing analysis, dialogue and technological innovation generate more and more cost-effective sectoral mitigation options.

Inviting the public to provide feedback to his Department on the mitigation options set out in the draft Plan, Minister Naughten said:

"Preparation of Ireland's first statutory National Mitigation Plan represents a hugely important first step by this Government in enabling our transition to a low carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by 2050. Ireland faces significant challenges in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions and this will be a long journey. It is vital now that interested stakeholders have their say as part of this public consultation to inform our ongoing work in finalising the Plan."

The draft National Mitigation Plan includes four chapters, addressing the Electricity Generation, Built Environment, Transport and Agriculture, Forest and Land Use sectors. These chapters provide the relevant sectoral policy context, the greenhouse gas emissions trends for each sector, the opportunities and challenges and the measures which are currently in place and those which are under consideration.  Within each sector a range of measures are already in place, guided as appropriate by relevant sectoral policies and strategies. The draft Plan also presents options for additional measures that could be implemented by the Government to further reduce Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions.

A series of questions, to guide responses to the public consultation, are included as an annex to the draft Plan. These questions are not, however, prescriptive and stakeholders will be free to comment on any aspect of the draft Plan. Stakeholders are encouraged to take an evidence-based approach, for example in relation to costs and abatement potential of individual measures, when providing responses to the consultation.

The Minister went on to say: 

"It is clear that there are no easy options to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions on the scale required in the coming decades. The options presented in the draft will be complex and often expensive to implement. However, in many cases these options will have a range of environmental, economic and other benefits, not just in relation to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but also as a potential source of employment or in improving our air quality, for example."

Members of the public and interested stakeholders can find out how to have their say at http://www.dccae.gov.ie/en-ie/climate-action/consultations/Pages/National-Mitigation-Plan-.aspx

Responses to the consultation paper will be reviewed and considered by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and other responsible Government Departments and will inform the finalisation of the National Mitigation Plan. The closing date for receipt of submissions is 26 April 2017.

In accordance with the timeframe set out in the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act, 2015, the final Plan must be submitted to the Government by June 2017.

 

ENDS

Notes for Editors

 

Purpose of the National Mitigation Plan

The draft National Mitigation Plan has been prepared in line with the requirements of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act, 2015. The purpose of the Plan is to specify the policy measures required in order to manage greenhouse gas emissions and removals at a level appropriate for furthering the achievement of the national transition objective and to take into account existing EU and international obligations on the State in relation to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This draft Plan is the first such Plan under the 2015 legislation. As such it does not represent a complete roadmap to achieving the 2050 national transition objective but begins the process of development of medium to long term options to position Ireland to take the necessary actions in the next and future decades. This will be an ongoing process. The National Mitigation Plan will be a living document and will be subject to ongoing refinement. In addition, there will be formal preparation of successive National Mitigation Plans at least once every five years as provided for in the 2015 legislation.

 

Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act

The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act, 2015, sets out a national transition objective to transition to a low carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by 2050.

Section 3 of the Act provides that the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment must make and submit to Government a series of successive National Mitigation Plans and National Adaptation Frameworks. The Act provides that the first National Mitigation Plan must be submitted to Government not later than 10 June 2017.

 

Strategic Environmental Assessment and Appropriate Assessment

A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Environment Report and Appropriate Assessment Natura Impact Statement are being published alongside the draft National Mitigation Plan.

The SEA Environmental Report has been prepared on foot of the requirements of Directive 2001/42/EC on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment, as implemented in Ireland through the European Communities (Environmental Assessment of Certain Plans and Programmes) Regulations (S.I. 435 of 2004 as amended by S.I. 200 of 2011). 

 The Appropriate Assessment Natura Impact Statement has been prepared in compliance with Article 6 of EU Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992, on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora (as amended).

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

What is the 2050 transition objective?

The extent of the challenge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with our International and EU obligations is well understood by Government and is reflected also in the National Policy Position on Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (2014) and the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015. Both the policy position and legal framework are key elements of the effort to progress the national low carbon transition agenda.

The National Policy Position establishes the fundamental national objective of achieving transition to a competitive, low carbon, climate-resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by 2050. It sets out the context for the objective; clarifies the level of GHG mitigation ambition envisaged; and establishes the process to pursue and achieve the overall objective. Specifically, the National Policy Position envisages that policy development will be guided by a long-term vision based on:

  • an aggregate reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of at least 80% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2050 across the electricity generation, built environment and transport sectors; and
  • in parallel, an approach to carbon neutrality in the agriculture and land-use sector, including forestry, which does not compromise capacity for sustainable food production.

The National Policy Position on Climate Action and Low Carbon Development is available at http://www.housing.gov.ie/environment/climate-change/policy/climate-action-and-low-carbon-development-national-policy-position

 

How is Ireland performing in relation to its existing 2020 climate change targets?

The 2009 EU Effort Sharing Decision (ESD) (Decision No. 406/2009/EU) set individual Member State targets for non-ETS greenhouse gas emissions (i.e. emissions associated with energy use in buildings and in transport and emissions from agriculture, which are not covered by the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme). The target agreed for Ireland for the year 2020 is that non-ETS emissions should be 20% below their level in 2005, compared to an EU average reduction of 10%. The non-ETS target is legally binding on Ireland.

The latest available EPA projections of greenhouse gas emissions suggest that, by 2020, Ireland's emissions could be 6% below 2005 levels, well short of Ireland's target of a 20% reduction on 2005 levels. EPA greenhouse gas emissions projections are available at http://www.epa.ie/climate/emissionsinventoriesandprojections/ 

 

What will Ireland's target be for 2030? 

The European Commission's July 2016 proposals to apportion the EU's overall target for non-emissions trading sectors amongst the Member States proposes a 39% emissions reduction target for Ireland from 2005 levels, based on GDP per capita, for the period 2021 to 2030. This target is adjusted downward for cost effectiveness by 9 percentage points to give a headline target of 30%. While this target is not yet agreed, it is clear that it will present an enormous challenge for Ireland, particularly in light of the likely outcome in relation to Ireland's 2020 targets. The European Commission's 2030 Climate and Energy Framework proposals are available at https://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/strategies/2030_en

 

What mitigation measures are already in place to reduce emissions?

The draft Plan lists an extensive suite of mitigation measures already in place in the four sectors concerned, including measures introduced at EU level and domestic measures. Where available, the draft Plan also provides information on the costs and emissions reduction impact of individual measures. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Emissions Trading Scheme;
  • Carbon tax;
  • Renewable electricity support schemes;
  • Renewable energy prototype development funding;
  • Financial supports, through SEAI, for housing energy efficiency improvements;
  • Social housing energy efficiency upgrades;
  • Near Zero Energy building standards;
  • Building Energy Rating Certificates;
  • SEAI Large Industry Energy Network and SME Support schemes;
  • Public Sector Energy Efficiency Strategy;
  • Public transport investments;
  • Smarter Travel Initiative;
  • Tax and financial incentives for low emissions vehicles;
  • Biofuels Obligation Scheme;
  • Rural Development Programme;
  • Forestry Programme.

 

Will the final National Mitigation contain any new measures?

One of the objectives of this first National Mitigation Plan is to set out the sectoral mitigation options for Government. Ongoing consideration of these options will be informed, inter alia, by the responses received in this public consultation. In some cases, development of specific options is well advanced and have been subject to their own public consultation, for example, in relation to the proposed Renewable Heat Incentive.

In this respect, while the final National Mitigation Plan may confirm that one or more of the options presented will definitely be implemented, it is expected that further work will be required in relation to a number of options presented. In this respect, the National Mitigation Plan will be a living document and will be subject to ongoing refinement.

 

How will the Plan be funded?

Ultimately, decisions on whether to proceed with measures or not will be a matter for Government consideration in the context of prioritisation as part of expenditure planning in the estimates and budgetary processes, including as part of the current spending review and mid-term review of the Capital Plan Building on Recovery: Infrastructure and Capital Investment 2016-2021.

 

What about sources of emissions not covered by the National Mitigation Plan?

The four sectors covered by the National Mitigation Plan comprise the vast majority of Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions. A residual volume of emissions from the waste sector and from industrial gases are not covered by this plan as these emissions are already controlled by regulation. These emissions account for less than 4% of the total.

 

How does the National Mitigation Plan link to the National Dialogue on Climate Action?

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment is establishing a National Dialogue on Climate Action. The objective of the National Dialogue is to provide an inclusive process to engage and seek consensus across society on enabling the transition to a low carbon and climate resilient future. The National Dialogue will be an ongoing process and will facilitate regular input, at local and regional levels, into the prioritisation and implementation of both climate and energy policy. For further information on the National Dialogue, see here: http://www.dccae.gov.ie/en-ie/news-and-media/press-releases/Pages/Naughten-announces-public-consultation-on-Ireland’s-first-National-Clean-Air-Strategy,-“Cleaning-our-Air”.aspx

 

When will the Government publish a National Adaptation Framework?

The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015 requires the Minister to prepare a first National Adaptation Framework by the end of 2017. Work is ongoing in relation to the preparation of this framework and it is envisaged that a draft framework will be issued for public consultation later this year.

 

What is the role of the Climate Change Advisory Council in the preparation of the National Mitigation Plan?

The Climate Change Advisory Council is an independent, statutory body established pursuant to the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act to advise the Minister and the Government in relation to climate change. The Advisory Council has specific functions under the Act to make recommendations in relation to the preparation of national mitigation plans.

The First Report of the Advisory Council, published in November 2016, sets out a number of broad recommendations in relation to the preparation of the National Mitigation Plan. See http://www.climatecouncil.ie/

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