European and International Policy on Climate Action

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Ireland is a party to both the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol, which together provide an international legal framework for addressing climate change.

The Paris Agreement which entered into force in November 2016 aims to restrict global temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.  Ireland’s contribution to the Paris Agreement is via Nationally Determined Contributions which are binding EU targets to ensure a reduction of at least 40% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

At the UNFCCC Conference of Parties, COP24 climate change summit in December 2018, parties adopted the Katowice Climate Package.  This includes decisions on many of the issues mandated as part of the earlier Paris Agreement work programme including progress on mitigation, adaptation and finance issues. There will be transparency and accountability on emissions reductions and efforts to use carbon pricing more effectively.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. The recent IPCC Special Report ‘Global Warming of 1.5 ºC’ details the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels and is a stark warning on the global action needed to tackle climate change.

National Policy on Climate Action

The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015 provides the statutory basis for the national transition objective of “enabling the State to pursue, and achieve, the transition to a low carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy’. As provided for in the 2015 Act, in order to pursue and achieve the national transition objective, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment must make and submit to Government a series of successive National Mitigation Plans (NMPs) and National Adaptation Frameworks (NAFs).

The National Mitigation Plan 2017 is a whole-of-government Plan; the measures from which will aid in the transitioning of Ireland to a low carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by 2050.

Ireland’s national strategy for climate adaptation is set out in the National Adaptation Framework (NAF) (2018) which was published in accordance with the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015 The NAF requires that by the end of September 2019, 12 sectors under the remit of seven Government Departments shall develop sectoral adaptation plans and that each local authority make and adopt local adaptation strategies.

The National Dialogue on Climate Action is led by the Department of Communications, Climate Action, and Environment and is supported by the Environmental Protection Agency.  It aims through regional gatherings, lectures and events to build awareness and engagement in relation to the challenges of climate change.

Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories and Projections are compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency. The inventory is a compilation of emissions from ten sectors including public services, waste, transport and agriculture from 1990-2017. National emission projections are developed annually in collaboration with relevant State and other bodies for all key sectors of the economy and are based on assumptions such as economic growth, fuel price and Government policy.  The greenhouse gas emission inventories and projections are used by Government to assess progress in meeting key International targets on greenhouse gas reduction. 

Infographic of Ireland's Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories and Projections

The Dublin Metropolitan Climate Action Regional Office was established in 2018 to bring together expertise and capacity within the Local Authorities and to provide a focus for linkages with Central Government Departments, Regional Assemblies, Public Representatives, Agencies and other relevant bodies. The offices have been funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment with the work programme being overseen by the National Local Authority Climate Change Steering Group.