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Enshrining the Climate Action Plan in Law

  • Ireland
  • General

03-02-2020

Before the election was called, the first step was taken towards ensuring the Climate Action Plan is put on a statutory footing.

Due to the general election being called for 8 February 2020, bills going through the Oireachtas will inevitable fall. Unfortunately, this includes the bill brought in to enshrine the Climate Action Plan in law - the Draft General Scheme for the Climate Action (Amendment) Bill 2019 (the “Bill”).

The Bill represents an important step in the fight against climate change. Given the importance of continuity in implementing the Climate Action Plan, which has cross-party support, we would expect it or a similar version to be resurrected when the new government is formed. We have therefore set out the details of the Bill.

On 6 January 2020, the government published the Bill. It aims to give statutory effect to the core objectives stated within the Climate Action Plan published in June 2019, by proposing 16 heads of amendment (the “Heads”) to the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015.

The Bill was introduced just days before the European Parliament adopted its position on the European Green Deal, an ambitious climate plan unveiled by the European Commission in December 2019, to transform the EU into a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions economy by 2050.

Below is a summary of the key Heads of the Bill.

National Transition Objective and National Long Term Climate Strategy (Head 2 and 3)

The Bill proposes to enact in legislation the government’s commitment under the Climate Action Plan of transitioning to a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions economy by 2050. This is known as the national transition objective. In pursuing this objective, the government will be required to prepare and submit:

(i) a National Long Term Climate Strategy (including policy measures and sectoral mitigation measures);
(ii) a National Adaption Framework (to ensure a timely and economic transition to the national transition objective);
(iii) an updated Climate Action Plan; and
(iv) a series of carbon budgets.

Climate Action Plan (Head 4 and 5)

The government will be required to update the Climate Action Plan on an annual basis which will provide an evolving roadmap of actions and targeted measures to deliver on the government’s climate commitments. These Heads also sets out the necessity for government approval and consultation with relevant ministers during the updating process.

Climate Action Council (Heads 6-10)

The Climate Change Advisory Council will be renamed as the Climate Action Council (the “Council”) and changes to the manner in which the Chairperson and ordinary members are appointed and the terms of their membership are introduced. The Bill also provides for the new function of the Council to provide recommendations to the Minister in the preparation and adoption of a series of appropriate economy-wide carbon budgets, each covering a 5 year period.

Carbon Budgets (Heads 11-13)

There will be a legal requirement on the government to adopt a system of carbon budgets as part of a grouping of three five year periods from 2021 to 2035. The Council will play a key role advising on budgets at least 12 months in advance of each carbon budget while the Minister will have important duties including responsibility for setting a decarbonisation range for each relevant sector within the ceiling of each proposed carbon budget.

Sectoral Climate Reporting (Head 14)

The current Annual Transition Statement process will be replaced with a new sectoral climate reporting process and each Minister, as determined by the government, will present annually on each sectoral progress to the Oireachtas.

Role of Local Government (Head 15)

The Minister shall, within 18 months of the legislation being passed and at least once every 5 years, request local authorities to prepare climate action plans for their respective administrative areas for the purposes of contributing to the national transition objective. The respective local authority plans shall contain mitigation and adaptive measures that the local authority intends to adopt and shall be consistent with national policy, plans and strategies. Where possible, the plans will allow for two or more local authorities to collaborate on regional actions.

Sale of Fossil Fuel Cars (Head 16)

A draft Head is being developed to address the commitment in the National Development Plan and Climate Action Plan to introduce legislation to ban the registration of new fossil fuel cars from 2030 and to stop the granting of NCTs from 2045. In effect, from 2030 it will not be possible to register any new car which runs on fossil fuels.

Conclusion

The Bill is available here.

Disclaimer

This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full terms and conditions on our website.

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