President Michael Higgins has signed the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021 into law.
The overall aim of the bill is to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, with an added ambitious target to reach a 51% reduction by 2030.
Targets will be legally binding and each sector will be expected to reduce emissions. The reductions will be based on a starting position from 2018.
Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan TD hailed it as a “landmark day”.
Extreme weather events
“The extreme weather events around the world over the past month have shown us all that we must act quickly, to protect ourselves and our planet," he said.
"Our immediate target of halving emissions by 2030 is challenging, but it is also an opportunity to transform our economy, create new jobs, protect our environment and build a greener and fairer future.”
The bill faced criticism from certain rural TDs in the Dáil.
Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard also put forward an amendment that was accepted, which will mean that carbon sequestered on farms will be taken into account in carbon calculations.
Emission reduction targets will now be prepared by the Climate Change Advisory Council and each sector will be expected to reduce emissions annually, with an overall 7% cross-sector reduction expected per year, including 2021.
However, the first two five-year carbon budgets proposed by the council should equal a 51% reduction by 2030, in line with Government commitments.
Agriculture is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases due to its reliance on livestock which emit biogenic methane. This is followed by the transport sector.
It is expected that some sectors will have to reduce more emissions than others, but this still has to be finalised.
Emission targets will be detailed in the climate action plan and updated annually.
Local authorities will also have a legal requirement to prepare a climate action plan which will have to include mitigation and adaptation measures and will have to be updated every five years.