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Overview - Climate Action in Ireland


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Goal 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Sustainable Development Goal 13 (SDG 13) is about taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.  SDG 13 has five targets which are to be achieved by 2030.  The targets include: strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related disasters (Target 13.1), integrate climate change measures into policies and planning (Target 13.2), build knowledge and capacity to meet climate change (Target 13.3), implement the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (Target 13.a), and promote mechanisms to raise capacity for planning and management (Target 13.b).

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its provisional greenhouse gas emissions data for Ireland for 2021, in July 2022, which supports reporting on progress with Target 13.2.  The figures show an increase in emissions of 4.7% in 2021 compared to 2020 when COVID-19 restrictions had led to a significant lowering of emissions.  In total in 2021, 61.53 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2eq) were emitted, with emissions 1.1% above 2019 pre COVID-19 restriction levels. The increase is mostly due to a significant increase in emissions from the energy industries sector due to a tripling of coal and oil use in electricity generation in 2021, with increases also seen in the agriculture and transport sectors.  The data show the scale of change needed within and across all sectors of Ireland’s economy to make sustained progress in reversing this trend and to meet our EU commitments and National greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

Climate Action Plan 2021

Information on Ireland's Climate Action Plan 2021 is published on the Government of Ireland website.

"The Climate Action Plan 2021 provides a detailed plan for taking decisive action to achieve a 51% reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and setting us on a path to reach net-zero emissions by no later than 2050, as committed to in the Programme for Government and set out in the Climate Act 2021.

It will put Ireland on a more sustainable path, cut emissions,  create a cleaner, greener economy and society, and protect us from the devastating consequences of climate change.  It is a huge opportunity to create new jobs and grow businesses in areas like offshore wind, cutting-edge agriculture, and retrofitting, making our homes warmer and safer.

The Plan lists the actions needed to deliver on our climate targets and sets indicative ranges of emissions reductions for each sector of the economy.  It will be updated annually, including in 2022, to ensure alignment with our legally binding economy-wide carbon budgets and sectoral ceilings.

This Plan makes Ireland one of the most ambitious countries in the world on climate."

Climate Change Advisory Council

The Climate Change Advisory Council is an independent advisory body which provides science-based advice to Government and policy makers on what Ireland needs to do to achieve a climate resilient, biodiversity rich, environmentally sustainable and climate neutral economy by 2050.  In its annual reviews, it assesses the progress Ireland has made towards achieving this goal and complying with national, European Union and International obligations related to climate action.

It was established under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015 and was tasked with additional functions under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021, one of which is to prepare and submit carbon budgets for consideration by the Minister.  These carbon budgets represent upper limitations of total emissions that may be emitted in Ireland during each consecutive five-year periods 2021-2025, 2026-2030, and 2031-2035, across the whole economy, taking all relevant sectors into account.  Every year, the Council will assess reductions achieved in GHG emissions, compliance with the carbon budget, and every sectoral emissions ceiling for that period.  In 2016, the Climate Change Advisory Council established an Adaptation Committee to assist and advise it in relation to the performance of any or all of its functions in relation to adaptation.  This includes making recommendations on national and sectoral adaptation and advising on Ireland's progress to climate resilience.

All publications of the Council and further information are available on the Council’s website.