Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Amendment Act 2021
The purpose of the 2021 Act is to provide for the approval of plans by the Government in relation to climate change for the purpose of pursuing the transition to a climate resilient, biodiversity rich and climate neutral economy by no later than the end of the year 2050
- to thereby promote climate justice; to make certain changes to the Climate Change Advisory Council;
- to provide for carbon budgets and a sectoral emissions ceiling to apply to different sectors of the economy;
- to provide for reporting by Ministers of the Government to a joint committee of the Houses of the Oireachtas;
- to provide for local authority climate action plans;
- for those and other purposes to amend the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015;
- to provide that local authorities shall, when making development plans, take account of their climate action plans and, for that purpose to amend the Planning and Development Act 2000;
- to extend the purposes for which moneys may be paid out of the Climate Action Fund and, for that purpose to amend the National Oil Reserves Agency Act 2007;
- and to provide for related matters.
- the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015.
There is no entitlement to remedy or relief by way of damages or compensation for any failure to comply with the 2021 Act or any breaches of obligation thereunder.
The 2021 Act provides for a ‘national climate objective’ which commits to pursue and achieve, by no later than the end of the year 2050, the transition to a climate resilient, biodiversity rich, environmentally sustainable and climate neutral economy. It identifies specific mechanisms, plans and strategies that will be used by Government to deliver the national climate objective. These are: carbon budgets; sectoral emission ceilings; a climate action plan; a national long term climate action strategy; and a national adaptation framework.
The Minister and Government, when carrying out functions to develop any of the specific mechanisms referred to, to do so in a manner consistent with Ireland’s international and EU obligations, and which takes account of the most recent national greenhouse gas emissions inventory and projections of future greenhouse gas emissions, prepared by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Minister and Government shall consult with the Climate Change Advisory Council for the purpose of performing its functions in preparing and approving matters.
Climate action plan and national long term climate action strategy
The Minister must prepare each year an update to the climate action plan and, not less frequently than once every 5 years, a national long term climate action strategy. The plan must be consistent with the adopted carbon budget programme. It is to contain a roadmap of actions to comply with the carbon budget and sectoral emissions ceilings for the period to which the plan relates.
The plan will also include other actions and measures to support Government climate change policy, including measures to inform and promote public dialogue on the transition to a climate neutral economy. It provides for consultation with the public and with other relevant Ministers, including Ministers responsible for sector specific actions, in the development of the plan.
The roadmap of actions will specify measures required for the first budget period of the carbon budget programme, an overview of the policies and, to the extent feasible, measures required for the second budget period, and also outline potential policies that may be required for the third period of the carbon budget programme.
The Minister will submit an update of the climate action plan to Government for approval each year, commencing in 2021. There is provisions for the development of a national long term climate action strategy which will have a minimum of 30 years outlook, and outline how Government intends to achieve the national climate objective.
The strategy shall be consistent with the carbon budget programme, have regard to EU Regulation 2018/1999 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 on the Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action and that there will be consultation with the public and other Ministers.
The Minister will submit a draft strategy to Government for approval. The 2021 Act sets out matters that the Minister and Government will have regard to when preparing and approving plans and strategies under this section. There is provision for the approval of the plans and strategies by Government, and for the laying of these plans and strategies before the Houses of the Oireachtas.
A Minister will carry out his or her functions, in so far as practicable, in a manner consistent with the most recent approved climate action plan and national long term climate action strategy.
The Government may request two or more Ministers to jointly submit a sectoral adaptation plan, for matters which they have shared responsibility. The Minister and Government will have regard to the matters listed when performing functions under this section.
There is a statutory process for developing, approving and revising carbon budgets and sectoral emission targets. There are provisions for the preparation of carbon budgets. A carbon budget, consistent with furthering the achievement of the national climate objective, will be proposed by the Climate Change Advisory Council CCAC, finalised by the Minister and approved by Government. Carbon budgets will be considered as a grouping of three five-year budgets, known as a ‘carbon budget programme’, with the third budget made as a ‘provisional budget’ which can be amended .
The first carbon budget programme will be for the period 2021 to 2025, 2026 to 2030, and 2031 to 2035. The first two carbon budgets proposed by the Climate Change Advisory Council should provide for a total reduction of 51% in greenhouse gas emissions over the period to 2030, relative to a baseline of 2018. The Climate Change Advisory Council will propose any subsequent carbon budget or proposed amendment to the provisional carbon budget to the Minister 12 months before the expiry of the first carbon budget.
When proposing a carbon budget, the Climate Change Advisory Council will provide the reasons to the Minister for its proposed carbon budget or any proposed amendments to a provisional carbon budget. Not more than 30 days after submitting a proposed carbon budget or any proposed amendments to a provisional carbon budget to the Minister, they will make arrangements to publish it.
They must ensure consistency with Ireland’s international and EU climate obligations. They will take account of the most recent national greenhouse gas emissions inventory and projections, prepared by the Environmental Protection Agency; relevant scientific advice, including the distinct characteristics of biogenic methane; international best practice on the reporting of greenhouse gas emissions and removals and, in so far as practicable, the need to maximise employment, the attractiveness of the State for investment and the long term competitiveness of the economy. They will also have regard to climate justice.
There is a process for approval by Government and the Oireachtas of carbon budgets.
The Minister will, within a four month period, on receiving a proposed carbon budget from the Climate Change Advisory Council, consult with the Oireachtas, with other Ministers and with the public, in order to finalise the carbon budget, present it to Government for approval and lay the approved budget before both Houses of the Oireachtas.
The Dáil may refer the carbon budget to a joint committee which may then provide a report containing its recommendations to the Houses, within two months from when the proposed carbon budget was presented to the Dáil by the Minister. The joint committee can request the Minister to attend and to provide information on the carbon budget, as it may require.
The Minister must consult with other relevant Ministers and with the public when finalising a carbon budget. If the Climate Change Advisory Council’s carbon budget is amended, the Minister must provide reasons when submitted to Government for approval. The carbon budget will take effect when a motion is passed by both Houses.
Should either House not approve the motion, the Minister will within a two month period, consult further with the Climate Change Advisory Council and other Ministers, amend the carbon budget if appropriate, and present a final carbon budget to Government for approval. This approved carbon budget will take effect after it is laid before each House. The Minister must set out the reasons if the carbon budget has not been amended. No further motion will apply.
The carbon budget will be published not more than 30 days after it takes effect.A Minister will carry out his or her functions, in so far as practicable, in a manner consistent with the adopted carbon budget under this section.
There is process for preparation and approval of sectoral emissions ceilings. The Minister will prepare, within the limits of the carbon budgets, sectoral emissions ceilings for different sectors of the economy. Different ceilings can apply to different sectors.
The Minister will consult with other relevant Ministers, as appropriate, in preparing the sectoral emissions ceilings. These will be presented to Government for approval after the carbon budget takes effect. The Government will determine the sectors to which sectoral emissions ceilings shall apply. If a provisional carbon budget is amended, or a carbon budget is revised, the relevant sectoral emissions ceilings can also be revised as appropriate, in consultation with other Ministers and with approval from Government.
A Minister will, in so far as practicable, in the performance of their functions, comply with the sectoral emissions ceiling that applies to the sector which they have responsibility.
The Minister may revise a carbon budget under circumstances set out. The Minister may revise an adopted carbon budget where new obligations are imposed on the State under EU law or through a relevant international agreement, or if there are significant developments in scientific knowledge in relation to climate change.
The Environmental Protection Agency will provide the national greenhouse gas inventory for the preceding budget period to the Minster as soon as it is finalised after each carbon budget period. Where greenhouse gas emissions are less than the carbon budget for that period, the Minister may carry forward any overachievement to the next budget period, which will be increased accordingly. Where a carbon budget is exceeded, the Minister shall carry forward the excess greenhouse emissions to the next budget period, which will be reduced accordingly.
The Minister will consult with the Climate Change Advisory Council to revise a carbon budget, after which it will be submitted to Government for approval. The revised carbon budget will take effect on approval of the Government and must be published not more than 30 days after it takes effect.