Five-year 'carbon budgets' to lead country to carbon neutrality by 2050

Five-year 'carbon budgets' to lead country to carbon neutrality by 2050

Key elements of the Climate Action Bill were unveiled jointly by Taoiseach Micheál Martin (centre), Tánaiste Leo Varadkar (right), and environment minister Eamon Ryan (left).

Successive five-year 'carbon budgets' form part of the newly unveiled Climate Action Bill, where limits will be set on the combined sectors of society on the amount of emissions that can be produced, with the aim of being carbon-neutral by 2050.

The first such five-year budget is set to begin this year, followed by two more, and will ask the public, motorists, industry and agriculture to contribute to reach the 30-year target.

City and county councils will also be compelled to produce plans to reduce emissions in their areas.

Key elements of the bill - unveiled jointly by Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, and environment minister Eamon Ryan - include enshrining 2050 climate targets into law, as well as the so-called 'carbon budgets' which will include setting sectoral targets. 

The Climate Action Plan would be revised every year, and the role of the Climate Change Advisory Council will be strengthened, according to the bill. 

It also promises new "oversight and accountability" by TDs and senators.

The transition to a "climate resilient and climate neutral economy" by the end of 2050 means a sustainable economy where greenhouse gas emissions are balanced or exceeded by their removal elsewhere, the Government said.

In relation to the carbon budgets, they will include all greenhouse gases in each five-year cycle, and will allocate emissions ceilings to all relevant sectors, which will include the likes of motorists, households, farmers, businesses and industry.

The gradual nature of the targets and decarbonisation will "drive future investment, allowing us to both reach our climate targets and stimulate job creation in new sectors such as retrofitting and renewable energy, the circular economy, clean mobility, green and blue infrastructure, sustainable agriculture and the bio-economy", the Government said as the bill was unveiled.

Annual revisions of the climate action plan and the development of a national long-term climate strategy at least once every 10 years "will ensure we remain on course to achieve our climate commitments and provide an opportunity to adapt and make corrective measures on the way if required", the Government insisted.

Local authorities will be required to develop five-year climate action plans, while the Climate Change Advisory Council will be beefed up to "advise and propose carbon budgets" to the Government - with future council membership including greater gender balance and increased scientific expertise.

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