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Phil's parting shot?

Posted by Oisín Coghlan on July 07, 2014 at 09:40 PM

Phil Hogan and the emus

The Irish Mirror reported on Friday that Minister Hogan's Department had circulated a 54-page list of his achievements and concluded that "the general feeling is that he will not return to this Department either way" after the reshuffle.

The report has now been posted online and carries the very formal title Progress Update on the Programme of Reform from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government

I've just read the section on climate change and, to be fair, it doesn't overclaim. Actually, it reads like it's been written by a cautious official rather than a departing spin doctor. Still I'd much rather have the Climate Bill published as a parting shot. Minister Hogan made a point of asserting whenever he was questioned on its proress that he would deliver it where others failed but unless he brings it to Cabinet tomorrow it looks like he won't quite get it over the line (the starting line techincally I guess as it will still have to go through the Dáil and Seanad!) before he departs the Custom House.

Anyway, Minister Hogan's self-assessment on climate change is below. And the full document is online here:


Progress Update on the Programme of Reform from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government

Page 48:

National Climate Policy

Substantial progress has been made on the development of national Climate policy and legislation over the last two years. The Programme for the development of national climate policy and legislation, which issued in January 2012, set out the process under which greenhouse gas mitigation policy and climate change adaptation policy would be progressed.  In addition to a comprehensive open consultation undertaken by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government in 2012 and two substantial policy analysis reports from the Secretariat to the National Social and Economic Council (NESC), the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Change and the Green Economy facilitated a round of stakeholder engagement on the NESC policy analysis report and the outline Heads of the Climate Action and Low-Carbon Development Bill.

The Joint Committee published its report in November 2013.  The report did not make recommendations as such; instead, it proposed ‘possible courses of action that might be considered’ in the further development of the Heads of the Bill.  Following full consideration of the report, as well as a range of other issues, the General Scheme of the Climate Action and Low-Carbon Development Bill, together with a National Policy Position on climate action and low-carbon development were released on 23 April 2014. In progressing the national low-carbon transition agenda, the National Policy Position and the General Scheme are parallel and complementary pillars.

The National Policy Position establishes the fundamental national policy objective of transition to a competitive, low-carbon, climate-resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by 2050.  It sets out the context for the objective, clarifies the level of greenhouse gas mitigation ambition envisaged, and the proposed process to pursue and achieve the overall objective. The evolution of climate policy in Ireland will be an iterative process based on the adoption by Government of a series of national plans over the period to 2050. Greenhouse gas mitigation and adaptation to the inevitable impacts of global climate change are to be addressed in parallel national plans – respectively through National Low-Carbon Roadmaps (with a focus to 2050) and National Climate Change Adaptation Frameworks.

Complementing the National Policy Position, the General Scheme of the Climate Action and Low-Carbon Development Bill proposes to provide a statutory basis for the national objective of transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by 2050.  In doing so, it also gives a solid statutory foundation to the institutional arrangements necessary to enable the State to pursue and achieve that objective. 

In particular, the General Scheme provides for both:

  • successive five-yearly National Low-Carbon Roadmaps which will articulate a vision for low-carbon transition and address greenhouse gas mitigation obligations on the State under EU and international law; and
  • successive National Climate Change Adaptation Frameworks which will articulate a strategic policy context to ensure adaptation measures are taken at a sectoral and local level to reduce the State’s vulnerability to the negative impacts of climate change.

In addition, the General Scheme provides for the establishment of a National Expert Advisory Body on Climate Change which will provide independent advice to Ministers and the Government on the development of National Roadmaps and National Climate Change Adaptation Frameworks.

The General Scheme has been referred to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel for drafting and the first draft of the Bill is awaited. In anticipation of the planned primary legislation, work has already commenced on a National Low-Carbon Roadmap to 2050. The roadmap is being developed by reference to the following greenhouse gas mitigation ambition levels as set out in the National Policy Position:

  • an aggregate reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of at least 80% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2050 across the electricity generation, built environment and transport sectors; and
  • in parallel, an approach to carbon neutrality in the agriculture and land-use sector, including forestry, which does not compromise capacity for sustainable food production. 

At present, Departments with responsibility for the key sectors in the national transition agenda are developing sectoral elements for incorporation into the first national greenhouse gas mitigation roadmap.  It is expected that work will be well advanced on these sectoral elements before the end of 2014.  The sectoral elements provide an opportunity for the Departments concerned, who are best placed in terms of ownership and understanding of their sectors, to frame the low-carbon vision/objective for their sectors and to undertake the evaluation that is necessary to develop a robust and cost-effective policy platform for delivery of that vision in their area. The key sectors are electricity generation, the built environment, transport and agriculture.

The first National Climate Change Adaptation Framework (NCCAF) was published in December 2012.  Publication of the framework was a significant development in advancing Ireland’s response to the inevitable impacts of climate change.    The framework set the policy context for a strategic national adaptation response.  It introduced an integrated policy approach, involving all stakeholders on all institutional levels, to ensure that adaptation measures are taken across different sectors and levels of government to manage and reduce Ireland's vulnerability to the negative impacts of climate change.  The Framework was designed to evolve over time, as planning and implementation progresses and as further evidence becomes available.

A series of key sectoral adaptation plans is central to the operational effectiveness of the national framework.  Work on the first round of sectoral plans is ongoing.  It was expected that the first drafts would be available by end June 2014 but that deadline proved over-ambitious.  A critical factor in this regard was publication in April 2013 of an EU Strategy on adaptation.  Action 1 of that Strategy outlines, amongst other things, that:

“………..By 2014, the European Commission will develop an adaptation preparedness scoreboard, identifying key indicators for measuring Member States’ level of readiness”

The outcome on this action is directly relevant to sectoral adaptation planning in Ireland, and it is both practical and sensible to await the outcome of the EU adaptation preparedness scoreboard.  Discussions which involve the European Commission and all Member States are ongoing and the Commission is aiming to complete the development process and finalise the scoreboard as quickly as possible.    In the interim, the draft sectoral plans are being progressed by the Departments concerned.  Next steps include identification of stakeholders with a role to play in individual sectoral responses to climate change impacts and to engage those stakeholders in the sectoral adaptation process.

Under the national framework, local development planning will become the platform for the delivery of local climate adaptation actions. The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government will continue to lead and co-ordinate on national adaptation policy, and will work to ensure that overall policy coherence is attained.  

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