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Ireland's Climate Action Delivery Board met only once between 2020 and 2021

The Board was tasked with holding public bodies accountable on climate action.

Image: Shutterstock/sirtravelalot

THE CLIMATE ACTION Delivery Board met only once over the last two years to discuss the implementation of climate action in Ireland.

The Board, which is comprised of secretaries general from government departments, is tasked with monitoring whether actions are being achieved and reporting back to the government on progress. 

Since being established, the Board has met four times – three times in 2019 and once at the end of 2021, an Oireachtas Committee heard this afternoon.

The Oireachtas Committee on Environment and Climate Action convened today to discuss the carbon budgets proposed for Ireland that would set limits on the level of greenhouse gas emissions that the country must not surpass up to 2035.

Representatives of the Climate Change Advisory Council, which prepared the carbon budgets, came before the Committee last Tuesday to present the work behind the budgets and face questions from politicians.

panel of climate scientists followed on Wednesday and industry representatives on Thursday.

Senior civil servants from the Departments of An Taoiseach, Transport, Environment, Agriculture and Housing, as well as representatives of Local Government Management Agency, were called to the Committee today to discuss the government’s action on climate.

Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore raised that the Climate Action Delivery Board had not met in 2020 ”despite a commitment to meet on a quarterly basis”.

She asked whether the Board was still in existence, if it met in 2021, and whether it will meet in the future.

Conor Ó Raghallaigh, the head of climate action at the Department of the Taoiseach, confirmed that the Board has met four times in total.

“Three of those were in 2019 and I think it was due to meet again in March 2020 when Covid struck,” Ó Raghallaigh said.

“My understanding is the situation was that Covid prevented it from meeting for some time. It did meet again towards the end of 2021 on the back of the updated Climate Action Plan for 2021,” he said.

“It is envisaged that it is likely to meet in the coming weeks and will meet quarterly. That’s the commitment undertaken in the Climate Action Plan.”

Whitmore asked whether the lack of meetings had an impact on Ireland’s failure to meet targets under the 2019 Climate Action Plan.

“The delivery rate on the CAP 2019 was relatively good, I think it was about 77%. What this means is the actions that were delivered in the timeframes set out, it doesn’t mean that the action weren’t undertaken but they couldn’t be brought forward to the next period and our reporting structures allow for that,” Ó Raghallaigh said.

“Now, there have been difficulties and the delivery rates have been sporadic in terms of the results and they have dropped.

“They dropped a little bit throughout 2021. There are a few reasons for that. I think part of the issue has been that the officials around the system in climate action policy were quite engaged on the bill which came through in the first half of and then the review of the client was action plan.

“There were interim climate actions put in place for 2021. I think there has been a bandwidth issue in terms of the same officials being responsible to do the planning as well as the implementation and I think that’s one of the capacity issues we’re going to have to face on this.”

Earlier in the session, he said that the Board was “tasked with holding each department and public body accountable for the delivery of actions set out in the Climate Action Plan”.

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After hearing from scientists, industry representatives and government officials, the Oireachtas Committee is now expected to report back to Minister Eamon Ryan on whether it advises him to accept the budgets or revise them.

The first cycle of the carbon budgets, which lasts until 2025, allows for 295 million tonnes (Mt) in that period. The second cycle between 2026 and 2030 limits emissions to 200 Mt, which decreases to 151 Mt between 2031 and 2035 for the third cycle.

The Climate Action Plan 2021, drawing on the overall proposed limits, outlined potential emissions ceilings that would allocate the reductions between sectors.

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Lauren Boland

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