Richard Bruton, the Climate Action and Environment Minister, recently described the Government’s Climate Action Plan as “ambitious but realistic”.
It is an ambitious plan -- maybe too ambitious -- that will require a new approach to climate governance if its ambitions are to be turned into reality.
The plan outlines 183 major actions to achieve a net-zero carbon emission target by 2050, with quarterly reports prepared for the cabinet.
It also involves establishing a Climate Action Delivery Board in the Department of the Taoiseach, which demonstrates the Government’s commitment to its own plan.
But we need to have a strict evaluation of the strategy.
Publishing monthly indicators on the programme, such as retrofit or developing electric vehicle charging points, will be important.
The role of the Climate Action Delivery Board will be crucial and a collective effort is required to achieve the targets, which will involve citizens being informed on the progress towards achieving the goals.
An online climate action delivery dashboard in an accessible format will help encourage debate.
India is setting a great example in this regard.
Its Digital India initiative provides a dashboard and live updates on progress to delivering on its programme to replace lighting in homes with light-emitting diodes, or LED devices.
It is the world’s largest zero-subsidy domestic LED bulb programme.
Transparent reporting with real-time data available on a public dashboard and robust monitoring processes have built trust in the Indian programme.
Moreover, it has further helped it to enhance the roll-out of other energy-efficiency programmes.
This model could be used in Ireland to track the National Climate Action Plan and bring transparency for the benefit of all.
We also need to act without delay in defining accountability. Local authorities will need to be key players in solving this climate and energy puzzle.
Along with public bodies, the private sector, non-government organisations, and civic groups should also be guided by the Government in what they can contribute to achieve the ambitious national plan.
There is also a need for improved publicly available data to help better understand and identify the issues.
We also need to build expertise and capacity to analyse historical and real-time data from different sectors to help shape the strategy.
Specifically, we need experts on low carbon technologies.
A shortage of skills will lead to poor specification, installations, and maintenance of low carbon technologies and will hinder progress.
Having transparent quality assurance and third-party certification schemes will build trust in the new technologies and ensure the right technologies are used.
Getting the support of communities up and down the country is crucial and harnessing the power of local and national media titles and social media will be needed to ensure no one is left behind.
Instilling a sense of commitment for all participants in the programme will be a challenge.
Overall, Ireland now has an ambitious and achievable plan, with the commitment from the Government behind it.
It is now time to start implementing, monitoring and evaluating the plan. This involves bringing transparency, engaging all participants, as well as giving a sense of ownership.
Piyush Verma, is senior energy market analyst at the International Energy Research Centre, IERC, at the Tyndall National Institute. He was selected as Ireland’s 2018 Future Energy Leader from the World Energy Council in London.