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Government publishes Climate Action Plan 2021

  • Ireland
  • ESG
  • Energy and infrastructure
  • ESG

18-11-2021

Introduction

On 4 November 2021, the Government released its Climate Action Plan 2021 (the “CAP 2021”). The CAP 2021 sets out a roadmap to deliver on the commitment to achieve a 51% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (as compared to 2018 levels) as set out in the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021. The CAP 2021 outlines a total of 475 targets and sets out varying target emission reduction ‘ranges’ for a number of sectors, for example, an emissions cut of 62% - 81% for the electricity sector, 42% - 50% for the transport sector and 22% - 30% for the agriculture sector. All ranges will be finalised in the Climate Action Plan 2022 following legal adoption of carbon budgets and sectoral emissions ceilings. 

We have set out our analysis of the key aspects of the CAP 2021 below.

Electricity and Renewable Energy

The CAP 2021 aims to cut electricity emissions between 62-81% and increase the proportion of renewable electricity used by up to 80% by 2030, an increase from the 70% target set out in the Climate Action Plan 2019 (the “CAP 2019”). To reach these targets, the CAP 2021 proposes to significantly ramp up the development of renewable energy, including the development of a further 8GW of onshore wind, at least 5GW of offshore wind and between 1.5 to 2.5GW of solar PV. 

Other measures include the development of storage capacity, the deployment of renewable gas (such as biomethane and green hydrogen), the development of three new transmission grid connections or interconnectors to Northern Ireland, Great Britain, and the EU and the expansion and reinforcement of the electricity grid through additional lines, substations and new technologies.

Homes and Buildings

The CAP 2021 proposes to reduce building sector emissions by 44-56% by 2030.  A number of measures are included to achieve this aim, including the retrofit of 500,000 homes by 2030, the roll out of up to 2.7 TWh of district heating, the installation of 680,000 renewable energy heating sources (eg heat pumps) in residential buildings (which is up 80,000 from the CAP 2019 aim) and the installation of renewable heating in 50,000 commercial buildings, (which is double the aim in the CAP 2019).

Carbon Tax

The CAP 2021 states that legislation will increase the rate of carbon tax that applies in Ireland on a phased basis to €100 per tonne by 2030. This is an increase from the proposed carbon tax rate set out in the CAP 2019 of at least €80 per tonne by 2030.

Transport

The CAP 2021 proposes to reduce transport emissions by 42-50% by 2030. It aims to provide for 500,000 additional walking, cycling and public transport journeys per day by 2030 and to increase the proportion of kilometres driven by passenger electric cars to between 40% - 45% by 2030. Replacements for bus and commuter rail vehicles and carriages are to be low or zero carbon by 2030.

The CAP 2019 proposed that 100% of all new cars and vans would be electric vehicles (EVs) by 2030 to achieve a target of 950,000 EVs on the road by 2030. The CAP 2021 reflects a similar aim to increase the fleet of EVs and low emitting vehicles (LEVs) on the road to 945,000, comprising of 845,000 electric passenger cars, 95,000 electric vans, 3,500 low emitting trucks, 1,500 electric buses and an expanded electrified rail network.

Agriculture and Land Use

The CAP 2021 aims to reduce Ireland’s agricultural emissions by 22-30% by 2030 (which is the lowest emissions reduction target of any sector under the CAP 2021). The CAP 2021 intends to promote organic farming and facilitate diversification into forestry, biomethane and energy production. The amount of chemical nitrogen used in farming will be reduced from its peak usage of 408,000 tonnes in 2018. A target to use to an absolute maximum of 325,000 tonnes (annually) by 2030 has been set, with an interim target of 350,000 tonnes by 2025.

The CAP 2021 proposes to reduce emissions in land use by between 37-58% by 2030 through increased afforestation and improvement in the management of 450,000 hectares of grasslands on mineral soils. Furthermore, a new Forestry Programme will be prepared for launch in 2023.

Comment

The targets set out in the CAP 2021 are welcomed given the scale of the challenge in meeting Ireland’s 2030 GHG emissions reduction targets. However, the plan currently lacks sufficient detail on timelines and the owners responsible for delivering the targets set out in the CAP 2021. We understand that these details will be published separately by Government in an accompanying ‘Annex of Actions’ in the coming weeks.  

For more information please contact:

Mark Varian, Partner, Energy - MarkVarian@eversheds-sutherland.ie

Jennifer Burke, Senior Associate, Energy – JenniferBurke@eversheds-sutherland.ie

Phelim McGeady, Associate, Energy – PhelimMcGeady@eversheds-sutherland.ie