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Dublin: 2 °C Wednesday 11 December, 2019
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Ministers to order State bodies to decarbonise under new Climate Action Plan

Public agencies will have to reduce food waste, promote water conservation, and roll out recycling practices.

Image: Shutterstock/David Soanes

MINISTERS ARE TO give “firm” direction to State agencies under their remit to decarbonise. 

Under the Climate Action Plan, every public body, from the National Transport Authority to the Western Development Commission, will be given a firm direction from government to decarbonise and take steps to address climate change in their own area.

The Climate Action Plan, which is being developed by Minister Richard Bruton, and due to be published in a matter of weeks, will introduce a climate action mandate for every public service body for the first time.

A government source said:

“Climate change is the biggest issue facing humanity. It is absolutely vital that the public service leads by example. That means that the government will take steps to ensure that every public service body is at the forefront of decarbonisation.”

Electric vehicles

One of the new initiatives will see new public procurement framework contract for electric vehicles be introduced.

This will allow public bodies to purchase electric vehicles with reduced administrative burden.

State bodies like An Post and Inland Fisheries Ireland have already committed to electrifying their fleets.  

Ireland’s attempts to tackle climate change have made headlines repeatedly in recent months. 

Ireland’s performance in taking action against climate change was ranked the worst in Europe in a report published in December

The Climate Change Performance Index ranked Ireland 48th out of 56 countries, with a score of 40.84, far below the EU average of 60.65. 

Varadkar has previously described Ireland as a “laggard” on the issue as it will miss emission reduction targets and faces significant EU fines. 

Large public sector organisations

Under the government’s new initiative, the mandate will require public service bodies to meet a group of requirements, with additional obligations placed on larger public service organisations.

Specific timelines for targets will be set for departments and State agencies. Some of the targets include every public building with public access to display an up-to-date Display Energy Certificate.

A ‘green team’ will also be set up in each agency to drive change, while all public facilities, are to bring in measures to reduce food waste, promote water conservation, waste segregation, and reuse and recycling practices.

Departments and State agencies will also have to ensure that their policies and practices do not lock them into “high carbon pathways” with the government stating that it also wants to ensure that major decisions and programmes are “carbon-proofed”. 

Local authorities

Separately, a charter for local authorities will be put in place, and require local councils to report annually on their carbon footprint.

This will include the publication of the energy profile of key buildings operated by the local authority.

Local authorities will be required to deliver a 50% improvement in energy efficiency by 2030, with employees being supported to make lifestyle changes both at work and at home, to reduce their carbon impact.

The Climate Action Plan is understood to have strict timelines set, with the Taoiseach’s office making sure each department deliver on their commitments.

Earlier this month, Ireland became the second country in the world to declare a climate and biodiversity emergency. 

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