Government to sign off on 'carbon budgets' before Dáil recess 

Government to sign off on 'carbon budgets' before Dáil recess 

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications and Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan will set 'carbon budget' limits for each sector, following a consultation process with each sector,  and then recommend them to Government. Picture: Leah Farrell/

The agriculture, transport and other sectors will know their so-called "carbon budgets" by the time the Dáil adjourns for the summer.

Intensive talks involving government departments and civil servants will culminate in targets being presented to Environment Minister Eamon Ryan in the coming weeks, who will then take the recommendations to Government for approval.

Department figures envisage that the Government will sign off on the budgets for each sector by the time the Dáil summer recess occurs in mid-July.

Emissions ceilings

Carbon budgets were announced in October 2020 and unveiled last October. They include all greenhouse gases in each five-year cycle and will allocate emissions ceilings to the likes of motorists, households, farmers, businesses, and industry, but aviation and shipping were not included.

The carbon budget for the period 2021-2025 aims to reduce emissions by 4.8% on average annually for five years, while the second budget from 2026-2030 will look to up that annual reduction to 8.3%.

The rise in methane levels has proven to be a particular headache for various governments across the world. It has become a conundrum for Irish political leaders, with scientists saying it is a real driver of the country’s emissions, but politicians are reluctant to take action that would alienate rural voters.

Beef and dairy cattle are among the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, with cows mainly generating methane through digestion and waste. Talks of a cut or cap to the size of the national herd have been met with fierce resistance from farming lobbyists, while Government figures have shied away from the politically-charged talk of doing so.

'Huge challenges'

The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) has signalled its doubts about evolving plans to reduce agricultural emissions, saying a "ceiling based on a 21.7% reduction will pose huge challenges" to the sector.

"However, anything higher will do significant damage on top of the renewed Brexit uncertainty the sector faces," it claimed.

The carbon budgets will be legally binding, but what that means in practice remains to be seen.

The minister will set limits for each sector, following the consultation process with each sector, then recommend them to Government. 

Once Government approval has been given, they are said to be legally binding.

For each sectoral ceiling, the so-called 'buck' stops with the minister overseeing it. The accountability for each target is to the Oireachtas, and ministers will be expected to explain to a joint Oireachtas committee if a sector has not met the targets.

The Oireachtas committee has powers to then make recommendations and within a set period, the minister involved must fully respond to those recommendations. 

It is thought that most of any punitive measures for failing to meet targets would be at EU level, which orders compliance costs to be paid if the bloc's emissions targets are not met. 

More in this section

Puzzles logo

Puzzles hub

Cookie Policy Privacy Policy FAQ Help Contact Us Terms and Conditions

© Irish Examiner Ltd