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New legislation commits Ireland to become carbon neutral by 2050

Taoiseach Micheal Martin, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar and Climate Change Minister Eamon Ryan unveiled the new Bill.

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From left, Climate Change Minister Eamon Ryan, Taoiseach Micheal Martin and Tanaiste Leo Varadkar (Julien Behal Photography)

From left, Climate Change Minister Eamon Ryan, Taoiseach Micheal Martin and Tanaiste Leo Varadkar (Julien Behal Photography)

From left, Climate Change Minister Eamon Ryan, Taoiseach Micheal Martin and Tanaiste Leo Varadkar (Julien Behal Photography)

The Government has committed Ireland to becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

The pledge was contained in new legislation unveiled by Taoiseach Micheal Martin, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar and Climate Change Minister Eamon Ryan on Wednesday.

Mr Ryan described the legislation as a “radical departure” for Ireland.

He said: “The target is clear that by 2050 we’re a carbon neutral economy. Net zero carbon. That’s the objective.

“The Bill sets out steps we would need to take to get there and it sets out how we would manage taking those steps.”

The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill defines how five-year carbon budgets will be set.

It seeks to ensure this Government and successive governments will be locked into achieving emissions reductions in five year plans up to 2050.

Every sector will contribute to meeting this target by implementing policy changes.

The new law would also see the formation of a Climate Advisory Council to oversee how carbon budgets will be achieved.

The legislation is a key part of the Government’s climate change response.

The Taoiseach said the legacy of the government must be a “dramatic step forward” in reducing Ireland’s carbon emissions and protecting biodiversity.

Mr Martin said the carbon budget process contained in the legislation would see the Government set limits on Ireland’s total emissions.

“We will put meaningful plans in place to ensure these limits are not breached,” he promised.

“Putting these requirements in legislation places a clear obligation on this and future governments on sustained climate action.”

He added: “The impact of our actions on the planet is undeniable, the science is undisputed. Climate change is happening and we must act.”

The Tanaiste said the Bill would create a “better, more sustainable future for all”.

“I am confident that the decarbonisation of the economy will present significant opportunities for Irish business,” Mr Varadkar said.

“Whether that be in the huge expansion of entire industries, such as retrofitting or offshore wind, or in the creation of innovative solutions to the adaptations that will need to be made, the early movers with the most ambition will see the greatest opportunities.

“Thousands of jobs will be created and we will need to ensure we have a strong pipeline of skills to respond.”

The Bill was passed by Cabinet on Tuesday.

Mr Ryan said he hoped it would be through the Oireachtas by December 15.

It follows on from commitments in the Programme for Government to achieve an average 7% per annum reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade.

Chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action Brian Leddin described the Bill as one of the most critically important steps in the government’s response to the climate emergency.

He said the Bill provided the framework for sustained climate action.

“It empowers the Oireachtas, and in particular the relevant Climate Committee, to hold the government of the day to account,” Mr Leddin said.

“It will force both the government and our local authorities to comprehensively plan and implement a pathway to an Ireland that will have net zero emissions by 2050.”

Online Editors