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# climate action
Climate Action Delivery Board scraps requirement for itself to report to Government every quarter
The Board is also no longer required to present an annual progress report to Government.

LAST UPDATE | Mar 19th 2022, 1:20 PM

NEW TERMS OF reference for the Climate Action Delivery Board have removed a requirement for the board to report to Government every quarter.

The board, which is tasked with holding leaders to account on climate action, will no longer specifically need to report to the Government on the implementation of the Climate Action Plan every three months.

The requirement was a stipulation in the board’s original terms of reference. Now, it must still report to Government, but there is no reference to how often that must happen.

The board was created in 2019 to “oversee the delivery of all actions” of the Climate Action Plan, the government’s blueprint for how it intends to lower Ireland’s emissions and mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis.

It comprises of secretaries general from government departments, with Martin Fraser attending for the Department of An Taoiseach to act as co-chair, alongside Mark Griffin of the Department of the Environment.

It was meant to “meet regularly to hold each Department and public body to account for their responsibilities in the plan” – but met only three times in 2019, never in 2020, once in 2021, and again in 2022.

Last month, Conor Ó Raghallaigh, head of climate action at the Department of the Taoiseach, told an Oireachtas Committee that Covid-19 had had prevented the board from convening until November.

Minutes of that meeting – the board’s first in two years – have been released to The Journal under the Freedom of Information Act.

The minutes outline that board members agreed on “a minor update” to the terms of reference following the publication of the 2021 Climate Action Plan.

The text of the previous and updated terms of reference show that changes were made throughout the document.

A requirement for the board to report to the Government “quarterly” was deleted, and the terms now ask that the board simply makes reports without specifying a timeframe.

The new terms also removed a section that put an onus on the board to “present an annual progress report and updated action plan to Government each year”.

At last November’s meeting, it was said that quarterly reporting on the Climate Action Plan for 2021 would be kept in place but that it may be reviewed before the 2022 plan is published.

This was decided in light of concerns that “actions should be prioritised on the basis of their importance in reducing emissions, directly or indirectly, or in achieving climate resilience through adaptation measures”. 

Since then, it was decided that reports for the last quarter of 2021 and first quarter of 2022 will be merged. 

Speaking to The Journal, Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore, who has raised the board’s performance previously in the Oireachtas, said she believes that “regular reporting should continue to be undertaken” and that it is “unacceptable” to drop the specific quarterly and annual reporting mechanisms. 

The TD said:

There should be full transparency on what actions the government is taking when it comes to climate.

She said that an absence of regular reporting would make it “impossible” to hold the government to account.

This government and successive governments have fallen foul on their ability to meet climate action targets over the years and we are now paying the price for that.

“We cannot afford for any delays or barriers by government in fulfilling our climate commitments.”

Overview of developments

The minutes of the meeting detail developments which had taken place since the board’s previous meeting in 2019.

“The original remit of the Climate Action Delivery Board (CADB) focused on overseeing the implementation of the Climate Action Plan 2019 and submitting quarterly progress reports to Cabinet for publication,” the minutes state.

“Since then, the new Programme for Government and Climate Action Plan 2021 have committed to maintaining the Climate Action Delivery Board as a key element of strengthened climate governance arrangements.

“In light of these developments, a minor update to the terms of reference of the CABD was agreed, primarily to reflect the introduction of statutory emissions limits, carbon budgets and sectoral emissions ceilings, contained in legislation passed in July.”

Along with removing the need for the board to report to the Government quarterly and to present an annual progress report, several other changes were made to the board’s terms of reference.

A requirement for the board to “monitor and oversee implementation structures and performance in each sector” was deleted.

The new terms instead state that the board should “monitor and support delivery and performance by each Department” towards meeting emissions reduction targets.

Meanwhile, a requirement for the board to discuss and review strategic projects and areas of work “to identify barriers, challenges, key lessons to date, and recommend options for further action” was replaced.

The terms now state the the board should simply “review key strategic projects and areas of work necessary to ensure achievement of the Government’s climate objectives”. 

CADB TOR Old The Climate Action Delivery Board's original terms of reference

CADB TOR New The Board's new terms of reference

Other topics of discussion at the meeting included the process for agreeing on carbon budgets and sectoral emissions ceilings and the annex of actions from the 2021 Climate Action Plan.

In a statement to The Journal, a Government spokesperson said: “Given [the Climate Action Plan's] publication towards the end of Q4, it was decided to merge the Q4 2021 and Q1 2022 progress reporting periods to allow for a greater focus on the implementation of actions following the intense period of climate planning just completed.”

“The first Progress Report on the Climate Action Plan 2021 will be published as soon as possible following the collation and analysis of all Q4 and Q1 returns at the end of Q1 2022,” a statement added.

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