The Government wants to double the number of charging points for electric cars across the country this year, Energy Minister Richard Bruton has said.
The scheme, which the minister noted is priority legislation for the Government in the new Dáil term, includes details on the development of carbon budgets and a ban on the sale of fossil fuel cars by 2030.
In effect, from 2030 it will not be possible to register any new car which runs on fossil fuel and the bill aims to stop the granting of NCTs from 2045 for such cars.
Mr Bruton (pictured) also said the plan to cut emissions would also have an impact on the aviation industry, but said certain exemptions could be argued for at European level given Ireland's heavy reliance on the sector as an island nation.
It is clear the biggest impact of the Climate Action (Amendment) Bill will be on the transport, agriculture, housing and energy sectors, which are most responsible for rising Irish CO2 emissions.
Ireland has committed to reducing such emissions under the Paris Agreement.
As part of the plan, Government departments and their associated agencies which fail to deliver on climate commitments will be punished with reduced budgets.
Launching the “draft general scheme” of the Bill, Mr Bruton said it is priority legislation for the Government in the coming Dáil term and said he is confident it can pass, despite the increased talk of a snap General Election in February.
“It is my ambition to have the Climate Bill enacted before an election,” he said.
The bill provides for five-year carbon budgets and that will be decided by government, after a submission from a strengthened Climate Action Council. So the Climate Action Council will set the desirable level of carbon budgets and government will effectively respond to that.
Key 2020 targets for emissions and adopting of renewable energy are going to be missed and will result in substantial cost penalties from this year.
Mr Bruton said the bill allows for the Oireachtas to have a large say in the setting of carbon budgets.
“The Oireachtas is in a very strong position in relation to the setting of climate budgets and that would require rethinking by government,” he said.
However, Mr Bruton's bill was subject to severe criticism from the Opposition who said it is imperative that the Climate Action Bill 2019 is not allowed to cripple the rural economy.
The Government 'has missed all of the targets so far to date'
Roscommon independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice was critical of the Government’s intention to push ahead with these plans despite other potential measures seemingly being ignored.
“We cannot allow this Government to force through legislation which will cripple the rural economy. In relation to the ban on the sale of fossil fuel cars by 2030, representatives of Mazda have noted that an electric vehicle with a battery over 35.5kWh in size would not be as efficient as a comparably-sized diesel vehicle, even after the battery is replaced after 100,000 miles,” he added.
Sinn Féin's David Cullinane dismissed the bill as being “high on rhetoric” but low on specific detail.
“Again, we have a minister talking about setting targets on climate action when the government has missed all of the targets so far to date,” he said.
Mr Cullinane also was sceptical about Mr Bruton's pledge to involve the Opposition more.
"He's also said he's going to consult more with the Oireachtas and give it more of a role. And I think that's laughable when you consider this government's approach to opposition bills up to now. They have failed to implement most of them. we have dozens of them sitting with money messages,” he said.