By Aine Fox, PA
Proposals on new targets for cutting carbon emissions in key sectors of Ireland’s economy are likely to be put to Government in the coming weeks.
It is hoped Ministers will be able to agree so-called sectoral emissions ceilings ahead of the summer recess.
While economy-wide carbon budgets came into effect in early April, the process is currently under way to set emissions ceilings for the likes of the electricity, transport, industry and agriculture sectors.
The Government can decide to accept or adjust them but once they are approved they become legally binding on the sector.
Ministers responsible for the various sectors are likely to be accountable each year before the Oireachtas, with the committee able to make recommendations for further action if the sector is falling behind in its efforts.
Factors considered in setting emissions ceilings are likely to include the relative cost across the sectors, the technical feasibility of what can be done, and the fairness of the process.
Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said urgent implementation of all climate plans and policies, plus further new measures, would be needed for Ireland to meet a 51 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030.
At the time, its director general Laura Burke warned there is a “significant gap between the ambition in the Climate Act and the realisation of the necessary actions to deliver on that ambition”.
She said: “All sectors have work to do, in particular the agriculture sector.
“As the largest contributor of national emissions, more clarity is needed on how and when it will implement actions to reduce methane within the ever-shortening timeframe to 2030.”
The Government has previously been accused of mixed messaging over planned turf restrictions, with heated exchanges in the Dáil over such a move at a time when fuel bills are rising sharply.
In April, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said there would be no ban on turf sales “for the remainder of the year” despite restrictions having been earmarked to come into force in September.
Environment Minister Eamon Ryan insisted the Government would not walk away from a plan to restrict sales, saying there was an urgent need to tackle the health damage caused by the burning of smoky fuels and warning of the lives lost every year as a result of air pollution.
He said what was being proposed for the future was “not an outright ban”, indicating it would relate to larger-scale commercial sales rather than small-scale cutting and sharing of turf among neighbours within rural communities.