Ireland’s Climate Action Plan 2023 was launched by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications on 21st December, 2022, the second update to the plan since its inception in 2019.
The plan sets out a road map of actions to help Ireland reduce emissions by 50% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.
Within the plan, there are six vital, high-impact sectors identified that must drastically reduce their emissions:
Electricity- powered by renewables (targets for 2030)
- 75% reduction in emissions
- Renewable electricity share to reach 80%
- 9 GW from onshore wind, 8 GW from solar, and at least 5 GW of offshore wind energy
- New green electricity tariff to be developed in 2025 to incentivise people to use renewable electricity
In 2020, 42% of all electricity in Ireland came from renewable sources, an increase to 80% will be integral to the decarbonisation of other sectors through electrification, such as transport, heating, and industry.
Industry- green business and enterprise (targets for 2030)
- 35% reduction in emissions
- 70-75% share of carbon-neutral heating
- Reduce fossil fuel demand by 10% (64% of final consumption in 2021)
- Decrease embodied carbon in construction materials produced and used in Ireland by 30%
This sector accounts for 10.2% of Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions, with growth in the circular economy and bioeconomy essential for decarbonisation of industry and the future of Ireland’s competitiveness.
Built environment- building to net zero (targets for 2030)
- 45% reduction in emissions for commercial and public buildings
- 40% reduction in emissions for residential buildings
- All new dwellings will be designed to Zero Emission Building (ZEB) standards
- 500,000 homes to be retrofit to a B2 Building Energy Rating (BER)
- 280,000 heat pumps to be used in new dwellings
- 400,000 heat pumps to be retrofitted in existing dwellings
- Generation of up to 2.5 TWh of district heating
- Up to 0.7 TWh of heating provided by renewable gas
Through growth in retrofitting, support from the Sustainable Authority of Ireland (SEAI), and stringent building standards and policies, this sector can continue its consistent decrease in emissions annually.
Transport: Avoid-Shift-Improve framework (targets for 2030)
- 50% reduction in emissions
- 30% of private cars and 20% of commercial fleets will be electrical
- 20% reduction in total vehicle kilometres
- 50% of journeys will be via public transport
- Avoid-Shift-Improve framework and approach- avoid or reduce the need for travel, shift to more environmentally friendly modes, improve the energy efficiency of vehicle technology
The transport sector’s actions expand into land use and designing transport systems with rural and urban planning that facilitates change and provides options and improvements for both citizens and the environment. This sector is one of the largest within the Climate Action Plan 2023, and full details on this sector and others can be found here.
Agriculture- sustainability in Irish farms (targets for 2030)
- 25% reduction in emissions
- Increase uptake of protected area on grassland farms to 90-100%
- Increase organic farming to up to 450,000 hectares, the area of tillage to up to 400,000 ha
- Expand the indigenous biomethane sector through anaerobic digestion, reaching up to 5.7TWh of biomethane
- Significantly reduce the use of chemical nitrogen as a fertilizer
- Contribute to the delivery of the land use targets for afforestation and reduced management intensity of organic soils
Agriculture accounts for 33.3% of all of Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions and guided by the Food Vision 2030 Strategy, Irish farmers and food producers will further prioritise delivery of environmental, social, and economic sustainability.
Land use- changing land use for the better
The exact reduction targets are pending the putting in place of a sectoral emissions ceiling in 2023, however, some key measures have been decided upon:
- Increase annual afforestation rates to 8,000 hectares per annum from 2023 onwards
- Improve carbon sequestration of 450,000 ha of grasslands on mineral soils and reduce the management intensity of grasslands on 80,000 ha of drained organic soils
- Rehabilitate 77,600 hectares of peatlands
- Develop, assess, and adopt as appropriate the new Forestry Programme and Coillte’s Strategic Vision
Land use, land use change, and forestry emissions are projected to rise according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the completion of the land use review alongside these projections will tell us how land is used now, and how it can be used most effectively to capture and store carbon and to produce better, greener food and energy.
These six areas are essential to accelerate the actions required to meet the climate and emissions objectives, correlated with other actions including:
- Large-scale growth of the circular economy strategy
- Public investment of €165 billion over the period 2021 to 2030
- Just Transition Committee to be established to ensure all communities in Ireland have the same opportunities to meet targets including training and up-skilling for retrofitting, increased social funding to decrease fuel poverty and assistance with public and private vehicle decarbonisation
- Citizen engagement and co-creation of solutions
- Public sector leadership coupled with cross-government collaboration and delivery
The complete Climate Action Plan can be found on the government website, with a supplementary annex to be published in early 2023 with further detailed actions.
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