This Climate Action Plan sets out how we as a country and a society, will meet the target of a 51% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 as proposed by Government.
The 2020 Programme for Government committed Ireland to becoming a climate-neutral economy by 2050.
The targeted emissions reduction in the Climate Action Plan for agriculture is 22-30%. How this will be achieved has and will be covered in detail by the Irish Farmers Journal.
We in Irish Country Living however are starting a new series Climate Conversations examining the impact of the plan on rural Ireland and the actions being taken by our society in pursuit of those targets. That is – how people living their lives, heating their homes, driving their cars and working in their jobs will contribute to reducing their carbon footprint.
There is emphasis placed on a “just transition” and citizen engagement within the Climate Action Plan as it will impact on all sections of society.
The Government suggests that for Ireland to transition successfully, change will be required in our society and economy with a collaborative effort across Government, business, communities, and individuals. And although the plan references how the Government and the public sector will lead by example, they are categorical in stating that “delivering on this ambition is the responsibility of everyone in society.” This engagement will be through the National Dialogue on Climate Action (NDCA). Ciara Leahy will delve into what this citizen engagement looks like next week.
Emissions generated from electricity must reduce by between 62% and 81% by 2030 compared to 2018. This is the largest decrease of any sector. The plan sets a target for renewable-sourced electricity of 80% by 2030. Total electricity demand over the next ten years is forecast to grow by between 19% and 50%. Specific reference is made to data centres, which have of late been highlighted as a considerable drain on our electricity supply. To address this the Government is to “ensure that growth of such users can only happen in alignment with our sectoral emissions ceilings and renewable energy targets.”
The Government has committed to retrofit 500,000 homes by 2030. Revenue from increases in the carbon tax will be ringfenced, including expenditure on the national retrofitting programme. Some €5bn from carbon tax revenues will go towards energy efficient retrofits. A new low cost loan scheme to retrofit homes with new tax incentives is also mooted.
Last week, we spoke with Electric Ireland Superhomes about the plan to retrofit homes. Measures suggested to cut emissions include increasing the uptake of carbon-neutral heating and changing building materials – a “fabric first approach”.
This conversation raised many questions in relation to grant eligibility, access to low cost loans, the savings that will be garnered from retrofits, what kind of heating system and energy generation system is most appropriate to homes in Ireland and what is the state of play regarding supplying excess power to the national grid.
The target for transport is a cut in emissions of between 42% and 50%. Rural public transport is to be enhanced through the Connecting Ireland plan. This Connecting Ireland Rural Mobility Plan also aims to reduce our reliance on private cars. There is also reference made to a review of the supply of renewable transport fuels in Ireland, such as biofuels, advanced biofuels, e-fuels, synthetic fuels, green hydrogen and biogas being carried out.
Public transport in rural parts of the country is currently not fit for purpose and cars remain vital to life in the countryside. We will look at the electric car market, the infrastructure required and the costs to buy an electric vehicle.
Industry and enterprise
The plan suggests that much employment will be created by the “green economy” but industry (enterprise) must also reduce its impact by between 29% and 41%. A Climate Toolkit is to be developed for business. The landscape for employment has changed with many people now able to work from home.
Also among the measures announced in the Climate Action Plan were references to increasing the number of remote working enterprise hubs and co-working spaces to support people to work remotely and only travelling to the office when necessary. Vital to this is the National Broadband Plan to ensure that households and these rural hubs have a similar level of connectivity as households in urban areas.
Our Money Mentor Margaret Nolan will review the financial aspects of the plan and Janine Kennedy will assess the circular economy and what this means for you.
We are looking for your contribution to this conversation. Are there examples of the circular economy in your community, have you already retrofitted your home, do you drive an electric car – is it cost effective? If you would like to feature or contribute please get in touch www.ifj.ie/rural-climate.
The United Nations explains climate neutrality as “achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by balancing those emissions so they are equal (or less than) the emissions that get removed through the planet’s natural absorption; in basic terms it means we reduce our emissions through climate action”.