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Five things to watch for in today's Climate Plan

4 Nov 2021

Friends of the Earth has laid out five question the Government's Climate Action Plan, due to be published later today, needs to answer.

1. Do the sectoral targets add up to 51%?

Ireland now has a legally binding targets to reduce climate polluting emissions by 51% by 2030. Much of the discussion in advance of the publication of the plan has been around the relative contribution of each sector to achieving that target. The plan will include “indicative reduction ranges” for each sector with reports suggesting that agriculture will only have to cut emissions by 22-30% while transport will have to cut by 45-55%. But the key question will be do the sectoral emissions ranges add up to 51%. Analysis of the numbers in recent media reports indicate the only the upper end of all the sectoral ranges get us to that 2030 target.

2. Do the planned actions match the targets?

The next test is whether the actions planned for each sector are enough to reduce pollution in line with the sectoral targets.It may be that 9 years in advance of 2030 that this plan cannot identify where every last tonne of carbon savings will come from in each sector. This plan will be updated every year after all. However, we will be watching to see what is the level of “unidentified savings” in each sector and, indeed, how easy is it to tell. How transparent will the plan be about any gaps?

3. Are the actions backed by adequate investment?

Many of the policies and and measures will require upfront investment that will yield not just carbon savings but cleaner air, healthier cities and create tens of thousands of jobs. Over time much of that investment will come from businesses and households but the state will need to lead the way. One obvious example is the electric car charging network. Without an adequate network people won’t have the confidence to switch to electric cars.

4. Does state investment prioritise poverty, inequality and jobs?

One of the mantras about the transition to a zero pollution future is “leave no one behind”. A key test will be whether public investment prioritizes those at risk of fuel poverty, those living in social housing and those who can’t afford to borrow to retrofit their home or buy an electric car. We need to make the zero polluting options affordable and accessible for everyone. It also essential that polluting sectors that need to see significant change, such as fossil fuel electricity production and agriculture get the supports they need for a just transition.

5. Is there a commitment to social dialogue and public engagement?

The government has committed to reviving social dialogue with sectoral stakeholders but as yet there is little sign of it. NESC and the annual national economic dialogue are not enough on their own. Much more sustained roundtable as well as bilateral dialogues between the stakeholders and government is required.

Equally, there must be consistent, clear and honest communication with the public, opportunities for meaningful public participation in policy development and implementation. This year’s public consultation on this plan was a first step but was rushed and incomplete. The Government would do well to learn from examples of good practice like the recent “Shaping our Electricity Future” process by Eirgrid.


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