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Ireland sets targets on path to carbon neutrality

Ireland sets targets on path to carbon neutrality

51 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is to be achieved by the end of this decade

The Irish government approved on Tuesday the final text of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill. It will amend the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act of 2015 to significantly bolster the framework for governance of climate action.

Specific targets

The revised Bill sets specific targets on reducing carbon emissions so as to allow Ireland to achieve a carbon neutral status no later than the end of 2050. Most importantly, the Bill envisages a reduction of 51 percent in the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the decade. To secure that target, the front-loaded plan will set out the creation of five-year 'carbon budgets' which will be consistent with the Paris Climate Agreement.

Thus, according to the government press release, the Bill will “provide the framework for Ireland to meet its international and EU climate commitments and to become a leader rather than a laggard in addressing climate change.”  The Climate Action Bill, which was a key objective of the Green Party when joining the coalition government, will now be fast-tracked to Parliament for final approval and enshrined in law.

Speaking at a press conference, Minister for Climate and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan stressed that the legislation is about showing leadership on climate action and also offering employment opportunities. "No country has ever set such an ambitious target and going net zero in three decades, that's a challenge beyond compare, but it's one that we're going to be good at and one that we will show leadership in,” he said, quoted by RTÉ. He added that 30,000 jobs will be created to retrofit homes so as to make them more energy-efficient and healthy to live in.

Renewable energy exporter

Meeting the ambitious targets in the Bill will require changes to the economy, transport, agriculture, and waste systems but these changes will be for the better, Ryan said. He added that some of the measures will take up to 20 or 30 years to achieve but there were areas where Ireland has real advantages such as renewable wind resources. According to him, Ireland will have a lot of clean electricity in the coming years which gives big industry plants the opportunity to "... switch to hydrogen instead of methane natural gas".

During the press conference, Tánaiste (Deputy PM) Leo Varadkar said the Government wants to turn around the current position of Ireland as a major importer of fossil fuels. Alternative plans envision the country exporting renewable energy. Also, changes are to be made to agriculture, so as to promote Ireland as a producer of low carbon and sustainable food, he said.

The government urges the public to join the national consultations for the creation of a new 2021 Climate Action Plan at gov.ie/climateconversation. The consultation will remain open until 17.30h on 18 May 2021.

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