Ireland is a party to both the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol, which together provide an international legal framework for addressing climate change. In December 2015, an ambitious global agreement on climate change was agreed in Paris. The Paris Agreement aims to restrict global temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. It aims to increase global ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and to foster climate resilience and low GHG emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten sustainable food production. It also seeks to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century. The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016.
The Paris Agreement aims to tackle 95% of global emissions through 188 Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) which will increase in ambition over time. Ireland’s contribution to the Paris Agreement will be via the NDC tabled by the EU on behalf of its Member States. This is a binding EU target of an overall EU reduction of at least 40% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The target will be delivered collectively by the EU with reductions in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and non-ETS sectors amounting to 43% and 30% by 2030 compared to 2005 respectively.
The EU Response
In February 2011, the European Council reconfirmed the EU objective of reducing GHG emissions by 80-95% by 2050 compared to 1990, in the context of necessary reductions according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), by developed countries as a group. While maintaining a focus on the long-term objective to 2050, the more immediate focus is on the period 2017-2020 and planning ahead for the period 2021-2030. In this context, the EU provided the legislative foundation for the 2013-2020 EU climate and energy agenda with the adoption of the EU 2020 Climate and Energy Package by the European Council in December 2008.