THE MINISTER FOR the Environment, Phil Hogan, has released the promised review of National Climate Policy.
He described it as “an important stock-taking exercise, in terms both of the progress that has been achieved to date in reducing national greenhouse gas emissions and the deeper reductions to which Ireland, as a Member State of the European Union, is already committed to in the medium and longer term”.
He said that Ireland is on course to meet its binding commitment for the purposes of the Kyoto Protocol in the compliance period 2008-12.
The review says that the next significant phase of national policy will entail development of a national low-carbon plan with a focus extending to 2050.
The publication shows that Ireland’s emissions profile is dominated by emissions from the energy supply, transport and agriculture sectors, which together represent 71 per cent of total national emissions.
Beyond 2012, Ireland has “clear and challenging greenhouse gas mitigation targets for the 2013-20 period, which are binding under EU law and which must be addressed in the longer-term context of transition to a competitive, low-carbon economy” said the Minister of the review.
Minister Hogan added:
My objective, in line with the Programme for Government, is to introduce climate legislation. However, the right policy must be in place before legislation can be introduced. Environmental protection and a competitive economy are complementary and my priority is to make sure we have the appropriate policy in place in order to make a successful transition to a low-carbon future; legislation should underpin policy.
The next phase of policy development will be “critical from both an environmental and economic perspective” the Minister said.
Deep greenhouse gas emission reduction targets in the medium to longer term represent a huge challenge for Ireland but early and effective transition to a low-carbon future provides a clear opportunity to demonstrate our competitiveness in the emerging global green economy.
Minister Hogan described a three-pronged approach that will be undertaken:
- An independent study will be carried out by the secretariat to the National Economic and Social Council, to be completed by mid-2012
- A public consultation, to be initiated by the Minister in 2012, will enable all stakeholders to engage in the policy development process
- Sectoral mitigation progress will be pursued through the Cabinet Committee on Climate Change and the Green Economy based on positive engagement with the relevant Departments where progress must be made if we are to meet our legally-binding EU targets.
The Minister also said he wants to iniatiate a period of consultation in early 2012 and hopes that all stakeholders will have an opportunity to engage in the policy development process.
Yesterday, he hit back at claims that the government does not care about the environment after reports that climate change was being put on the back burner.
Minister Hogan said that he believes in achieving consensus with the relevant departments through the Cabinet Committee on Climate Change and the Green Economy and has already met with Ministers Rabbitte, Coveney, Varadkar and Bruton who have committed to identifying proposals for consideration.